The NHL is considering re-alignment to even its teams’ travel schedules. As it sits now the Western Conference teams log thousands of miles more than the Eastern Conference teams. Few teams are happy with the current alignment and many of the Western teams bordering the Eastern Conference want to be moved to the East. But with the uneven balance of having so many teams situated in the Eastern time zone, moving just one team will not settle the issue.
So there is a proposal to make 4 new conferences void of inner divisions. This move would create a much greater balance of travel for every team and would also allow every team to have at least a home and home series between each team.
You’d think this would be universally accepted by owners as it is not only good for the league, but also fits in with the league’s push for “parity”, a stance they’ve been promoting since the end of the lock out.
The proposed new “Conferences” will be divided up as follows:
Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, San Jose, Los Angelas, Anaheim, Colorado, Phoenix
Winnipeg, Nashville, Minnesota, Chicago, Detroit, Columbus, Dallas
Toronto, Montreal, Boston, Buffalo, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Florida
New York Islander, New York Ranger, New Jersey, Pittsburg, Philadelphia, Washington, Carolina
Here is a map of the new proposed conferences:
Upon looking at the reconfigured league above it seems to be a perfect solution. But this is not the case. While seeing support from the Western Conference teams, this plan has little support from the Eastern Conference teams. They currently have an incredible advantage over the Western Conference teams in terms of travel fatigue and cost and this is not an advantage they are willing to give up without a fight. They’ve stated that their biggest concern is the cost of the additional travel. The Eastern teams traveling expenses will rise under this new alignment but will still be significantly less than that of the Western teams travel expenses.
So is the league truly for parity, or are they only for parity when it gives certain teams a competitive advantage? It appears to be the latter. Any team on the East complaining at a new travel schedule should look at the where Vancouver lies on the map. Their annual travel schedule is absurd, but it is the price to pay for its location. This new alignment will also have each team play a home and away game against each other team in the league. Giving the season ticket holders the opportunity to see each of the games stars on an annual basis should be enough to get the owners to approve this decision, but when have the owners ever done anything that would better benefit their fans. No instead they’re looking at their own unenlightened self-interest. So to all the NHL owners out there I ask you this on behalf of your fans, do the right thing. Get this re-alignment passed.