HNIC: New Re-alignment Proposal

The Avs attempt to leave the ice is thwarted by Jamie McGinn's gravitational pull. - Doug Pensinger

The NHL and PA have been hard at work negotiating (pftpcthahahaha) a new look for the league's divisions. Here's the latest.

Not that I saw the Hockey Night in Canada panel talk about it, because Gamecenter blacked the intermissions out for me, but you can find all these details being tweeted around between Nick Cotsonika, Jack Edwards, and Elliotte Friedman.

HIGHLIGHTS: Under this proposal, the League is split into four "conferences," two with seven teams and two with eight teams. detroit and Columbus find themselves in a Conference on the "Eastern Side," with Winnipeg being over in the "Western Side" where it belongs. In order to balance playoffs chances between conferences with unequal numbers of teams in them, some sort of wild card is being talked about, but the details aren't set yet.

Here's how it breaks down.

Conference 1: the Middle East & Rivalries

The motivation behind this conference is fairly clear. Hatred is intact between New Jersey and the Rangers, Pittsburgh and Philly, Pittsburgh and Washington, Philly and the Rangers, the Islanders and everybody, and Carolina and Columbus fall in to place geographically. Good chance for a lot of crazy hockey in this conference moving forward. It will be extremely difficult to advance from this group into the playoffs.

Conference 2: Save Florida

Take the Northeast, with all its old franchises that make money hand over fist, heated rivalries, add in another moneymaker with the red wings, and then... Florida and Tampa? This one seems pretty transparently a way to force some cash flow into the Floridian franchises. It pairs them with old, established teams who have broad fanbases and travel very well (and Ottawa). The suits probably believe the extra travel will be more than made back in extra revenue. There's also a decent chance for teams who haven't seen a lot of postseason action lately to get there. Not hard to picture any one of Toronto, Tampa, or Florida squeaking in.

Conference 3: Chicago and the Pips

GUYS OMG WE AREN'T BEING STUCK WITH ALL THE BIG CALI TEAMS WE SUCK AGAINST AND BILLIONS OF PACIFIC STARTS. Instead, this is a 7-team conference consisting of Chicago, two teams who are okay in Nashville and St. Louis, and a bunch of teams who aren't good at all. Fairly geographically arranged, really. Dallas comes out of the Pacific, where they really never belonged, and Colorado and Minnesota join a more central group. If there's any changes to this before it's ratified, I'd figure it's one of Detroit or Columbus joining Conference 3.

For the Avs this means lots of Central time zone starts, lots of fun games to watch (Chicago), lots of dirty, irritating games (Dallas and Winnipeg), and a continuing terrible rivalry with Minnesota. Oh and that BUDDING RIVALRY against the ST LOUIS BLUES FUCK YOU BLUESERS, according to NBC. (Unfortunately it probably also means seeing less of the Oilers, which I was looking forward to more of in the future to be frank, those games are fun as hell.) It's a division where pretty much anybody could be right behind Chicago for 2nd-4th.

Conference 4: California and Friends

This one just makes good sense too. Takes all the Western Canada franchises and all the teams that are (or soon could be, eh Seattle Coyotes?) on the West coast/Pacific time zone and lumps them together. With Vancouver, Anaheim, LA, San Jose, and Phoenix all together, this is easily a Group of Death. I can't see Calgary or Edmonton advancing out of it for a long time. Calgary because they aren't close and are getting older, Edmonton because they're just not built to be big enough a squad to play in the Pacific. The talent is there, the team is really close (if too homogenous), but they just aren't tough enough.

So what do you guys think? Like the moves here? What's gonna be the toughest conference to make the playoffs in? What does the future hold for the Avs if this is the conference they play in for the conceivable future?

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