The subject of realignment was brought up again over the weekend as the National Hockey League, in a much less forceful manner than last year, began notifying teams of proposed divisions for the 2013-14 season. I still haven’t seen an update on how the Stanley Cup Playoffs would be constructed – an issue that will also have an effect on whether this latest proposal is successful. Click here for a balanced position by CBC’s Elliotte Friedman.
New Divisional Structure (proposed)
Division A: Washington, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Carolina, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey, Columbus
Division B: Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto
Division C: Chicago, Dallas, Colorado, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, Winnipeg
Division D: Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton
Following this morning’s skate, Darryl Sutter offered his own opinions on the league’s latest realignment proposal.
“I went through lots of…realignments in 35 years,” Sutter said. “I went through divisions, conferences, unbalanced schedules, unbalanced divisions, unbalanced conferences, so whatever they decide…you’re never going to be happy all the way around because of travel. It’s the way it works. My only issue, quite honest, with what they’re proposing is obviously…borders. It affects border crossings and backs-to-backs and adds a lot of time into your schedule. There’s nothing you can do when you’re on the west coast about time zones, because, hey, half the teams are in another time zone. So those are always the two things for you, are how your travel affects you. Other than that, it’d be nice to be put a little bit of pressure on the east so they’re not in their own bed and jammies all the time. It is. It’s easier for them come playoff time. I’ve coached only in the Western Conference, and the Eastern Conference has an easier path once playoffs start just because of the travel. Hey, Detroit’s always wanted to get over there. It’d be awesome being an old school guy to see Detroit, Toronto, you know, that sort of thing. But you know, we had the old division in Chicago, and there were three of us from the original six, and…it was pretty cool. Detroit, Toronto and Chicago. So that was pretty cool. The heritage guys, the history guys all liked that part of it.”
I also spoke with Dustin Penner about realignment on Sunday, though at the time he hadn’t seen the proposed divisions. Speaking generally, and expressing a desire to be able to play in his home province of Manitoba at least once a year, he said “I think it should be as fair as possible in regards to travel for teams, specifically Detroit, Columbus and Winnipeg. Detroit, probably, and Columbus for that matter, go through a lot of time zones, probably more than any other team during the year.”
I’ll share my own opinions during the second intermission of tonight’s FOX Sports West broadcast. Feel free to share your own in the comments section.