NHL realignment has been at the top of most hockey fans wish lists for the past year or so and it’s finally getting discussed by NHL brass once again. After a lockout that almost robbed us of another full season of hockey and a lockout that stunted the steady growth of the league, realignment is being floated as a possible way to re-energize fan bases and pump new life into the sport.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that the league is hashing out a realignment plan that could take effect next season but nothing is close to being finalized at the moment.
Famed villain to NHL fans, Donald Fehr, is still slightly opposed to the idea of realignment but he has said the NHLPA is open to hearing what the NHL has in store, if they’re willing to include them on the matter.
“We expect to talk with the league on the subject this week,” Fehr said. “A year ago, when we raised the issue of increased travel for teams, the league did not have mock schedules for us to review that might have alleviated our concern.”
A plan would need to be hashed out before we get too excited, and with 30 teams, the task to keep the divisions and conferences competitive is not easy.
But while it’s not going to be easy, and while Fehr may be partly against the idea, it’s a brilliant way to get fans involved in their teams and in the sport of hockey. It might not happen, but if the NHL wants to become a relevant and popular sport once again in America, realignment is essentially a requirement.