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This realignment takes 32 teams

Thrashers move

Sit down, Mr. Bettman. I’m about to solve all of your problems for you. Or at least, I would if major sports executives actually took all of their advice from blogs (which they should)…so humor me for a moment.

You currently have 30 teams. That’s like having 30 apples. You’re about to take one apple and move it to Winnipeg, which is kind of like taking the apple from the bottom of the fridge that you completely forgot about because you were busy trying to save the apple you had left in the microwave (and everyone knows you don’t microwave apples) and sticking it into the back of the freezer. Of course, you have to move the rest of your fridge around to make everything fit…so what do you do?

Well, Mr. Bettman, you get two more apples.

And honestly, the apple analogy stops working about right here, so moving along…

As a licensed relocation expert*, I’m here to present you your solution. And here it is:

Add two teams.

But wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait.

Wait.

“Aren’t we having enough trouble holding the teams we have now?”

Well, that’s really none of my concern. You’re about to move a team to Winnipeg. I mean, can you think of one time in any business in the history of anything ever where moving to Manitoba for the dead of winter was considered the best strategy? I’m waiting…

Here’s what you do – you stick a team somewhere in Canada. Do it now. History has shown that major league hockey teams don’t fail in Canada, excluding the Montreal Wanderers, the Hamilton Tigers, the original Ottawa Senators, the Montreal Maroons, the Toronto Toros, the Calgary Cowboys, the Ottawa Civics, the Quebec Nordiques and the Winnipeg Jets. Whatever you do, you grab one of your two extra apples…er…teams…and stick it in Canada. Specifically, you stick that franchise in Southern Ontario. Major league hockey cannot fail in Southern Ontario…if you ignore the four times it did.

For your next magic trick, since you appear to love watching hockey played in the desert, you stick a team in Las Vegas. If hockey works in Phoenix, as you so clearly believe, it will work in Las Vegas, home of the Wranglers.

There’s an underlying strategy to all of this, Mr. Bettman. You know how when you buy a peach at a store (why am I talking about peaches now?) and they sometimes come in a carton with a space for each individual peach? Well, what happens if you want to move one peach to another space and there is already a peach there? Well, you sure as heck can’t move that peach there…that’s for dadgum sure! By sticking a team in Ontario and another in Las Vegas, you take away two major relocation possibilities. If Southern Ontario is no longer an open market , where would the Coyotes move to? Hendersonville? I hear they are looking for a hockey team…

Now that the NHL has 32 teams – or apples…(wait, didn’t I quit the apple analogy? I guess not) - you are going to need some baskets to put them in before you put them back in the fridge (no, I don’t know why you would actually need a basket to put an apple in the fridge, but that’s not really the point).

Mr. Bettman, go grab 8 baskets.

First thing I want you to do is grab your Canadian apples. No, Mr. Bettman, put the Phoenix apple down.

Your first division looks like this:

  • Montreal
  • Ottawa
  • Toronto
  • Third Ontario Team

Now grab another basket. In this one we put your other 4 Canadian apples.

  • Calgary
  • Edmonton
  • Vancouver
  • Winnipeg

Mr. Bettman, that sound you just heard was every Canadian’s head exploding from pure joy.

Now we get to the tricky part. Grab another basket. Here’s what goes in this one:

  • Boston
  • Buffalo
  • New Jersey Devils
  • New York Rangers

But what about the Islanders, you ask? WHAT ABOUT THE ISLANDERS? Well, shortly after Garth Snow has revoked your media credential for asking such incredulous questions, present him with this basket of apples:

  • New York Islanders
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Washington

What you are doing with the Islanders, Mr. Bettman, is saving a dying franchise. A franchise that has won 4 Stanley Cups. You are putting them into a division that your NBC contract already loves. Embrace it.

Get you another basket. Into this one we toss the following:

  • Chicago
  • Columbus
  • Detroit
  • Minnesota

But wait…you’ve got all of the hockey purists running down your neck about this one. How DARE YOU put two Original Six franchises in the same division as two EXPANSION franchises? Just point to the current Central Division and laugh.

After you are done laughing, you know the drill. Into this basket, we toss:

  • Colorado
  • Dallas
  • Phoenix
  • St. Louis

Yes, you have mostly just bankrupted the charter plane companies for both the Wild and the Stars, but hey…it’s better than whatever you think you have now.

For your second to last magic trick, you’re going to grab 3 California apples and one that is covered with glitter and regret. Into this basket, we put:

  • Anaheim
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • San Jose

And finally, Mr. Bettman, you know we wouldn’t leave out our own favorite NHL club. Grab that last basket and savor the moment…

  • Carolina
  • Florida
  • Nashville
  • Tampa Bay

So there you go. I’ve presented you a 32 team league with 8 divisions of 4 teams a piece. Playoffs can even work the exact same way, except with 4 division winners instead of 3.

As for the regular season, each team will play the teams within their division 6 times a piece. They will then play the other teams in their conference 4 times a piece. Then they will play the 16 teams in the other conference once, working on an annual alternating home-and-home basis. You do this and you add exactly zero games to the schedule and everybody plays everybody at least once.

And, Mr. Bettman, if you’ve simply glossed over everything and had a tl/dr moment…I present it to you this way:

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division
  • New York Islanders
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Washington
East Canada Division
  • Montreal
  • Ottawa
  • Toronto
  • Third Ontario Team
Northeast Division
  • Boston
  • Buffalo
  • New Jersey Devils
  • New York Rangers
Southeast Division
  • Carolina
  • Florida
  • Nashville
  • Tampa Bay
Western Conference
Central Division
  • Chicago
  • Columbus
  • Detroit
  • Minnesota
Midwest Division
  • Colorado
  • Dallas
  • Phoenix
  • St. Louis
Pacific Division
  • Anaheim
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • San Jose
West Canada Division
  • Calgary
  • Edmonton
  • Vancouver
  • Winnipeg
82-Game Schedule:
  • 6 games each against division opponents.
  • 4 games each against conference opponents.
  • 1 game each against non conference opponents.
Playoff Format:
  • Division winners are seeded 1-4 instead of 1-3.
  • Everything else is the exact same.

Put all that together, plus a nice 10-year network contract…and baby…you got a stew going…

Now seriously, would it kill someone to get me an apple?

*Mr. Fuqua has neither a license in relocation nor expertise in any known categories.

8 Comments

  1. Kyle

    May 16, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    I like it. Vegas seems like a stretch to me since it’s really just a place for tourists. If the way you have it set up actually happens though, our only divisional competition would be TB.

  2. Wendy of TN

    May 16, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    this set up makes the best bit of sense not only does it cut down on travel time and expenses for the majority of the schedules it provides a new and exciting league line up for all who watch hockey!! the powers that be should be reading this column and seeing if it makes sense to them and following it

  3. Preds fan

    May 16, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    Where does the Atlanta franchise go??

  4. Michael Lance

    May 16, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Nice story. I like the fact that you added Las Vegas. However, the economy in that city right now is so down right now, and people are unemployeed, I don’t know how well they would support them. But it is an excellent and interesting idea. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Harrison Hansen

    May 16, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    Keep the NHL at 30 teams and simply move the Atlanta Thrashers to Milwaukee. Let them inherit the name “Admirals” and relocate the Predators current AHL affiliate to another city.

    The Bradley Center, home of Milwaukee’s AHL and NBA teams, was originally built in 1988 to lure an NHL franchise to Wisconsin. Now over twenty years later, Milwaukee is in need of a new arena and housing a professional hockey team would be the perfect reason to build one.

    Have the Predators replace Atlanta in the Southeast and the Milwaukee Admirals will join the Central. There will be natural rivalries with all of the teams in the division, as well as the border battle with the Minnesota Wild.

    • Patten Fuqua

      May 16, 2011 at 9:42 pm

      Nice idea, but considering True North exists for the sole purpose of moving a team to Winnipeg, I don’t think they’re going to move a team to Milwaukee.

  6. Scott

    May 18, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Doesn’t this lose the rivalry of Detroit and Chicago? I’d love to be in the East, but I’d HATE to lose those rivalries