NHL fans around he world are seeing their dream come true, as the hard fought battle to realign the NHL has finally come to a victorious end. The NHL and NHLPA have both agreed on and approved a new realignment plan that will take effect after the season and be in place next season and be re-evaluated after the 2014-15 season.
Upon hearing this news, every NHL fan that has been holding out realignment leapt up from their desk and burst into the ‘Yub-Nub’ song from Return of the Jedi. This is truly monumental for the NHL and could mean an epic resurgence in popularity amongst American sports fans.
Under the current alignment, NHL fans are having to choose between sleep or watching their favorite teams as fans of the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks (both Central Time Zone teams) are having to wait until 9:00pm for the puck to drop many nights, with games not ending until close to midnight.
The other issue with the current alignment in the NHL is the lack of true rivalries, as a team considered to be a rival by one team may not have the feeling returned. The old system of doing things created rivalries out of a playoff system that forced divisional teams to play each other in their own separate playoffs before advancing to the Stanley Cup semi-finals.
This is why the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota North Stars were such bitter rivals, they had to literally go through one another in the playoffs almost every single year.
NHL Deputy commissioner Bill Daly released a statement announcing the approval of realignment and what it mens for the future of hockey.
“The NHL Players’ Association confirmed to us today that it has consented to a revised plan for realignment, effective for the 2013-14 season. Our next step will be to bring the proposed plan for realignment to the NHL Board of Governors for its consideration. We will update the status of the process as future developments warrant.”
Under the new alignment, the NHL will still be split into two separate conferences but there will only be four total divisions between the two conferences.
Pacific Division (WEST)
Mid-West Division (WEST)
Central Division (EAST)
Atlantic Division (EAST)
|Anaheim Ducks||Chicago Blackhawks||Boston Bruins||Carolina Hurricanes|
|Calgary Flames||Colorado Avalanche||Buffalo Sabres||Columbus Blue Jackets|
|Edmonton Oilers||Dallas Stars||Detroit Red Wings||New York Rangers|
|L.A. Kings||Minnesota Wild||Florida Panthers||New York Islanders|
|Phoenix Coyotes||Nashville Predators||Montreal Canadiens||New Jersey Devils|
|San Jose Sharks||St. Louis Blues||Tampa Bay Lightning||Pittsburgh Penguins|
|Vancouver Canucks||Winnipeg Jets||Toronto Maple Leafs||Washington Capitols|
Some fans may still have an issue with how the realignment stacked up, but overall this seems to be exactly what was needed. The lack of a Canadian team in the Atlantic Division may rub some the wrong way, as Columbus and Montreal could have easily been switched, but a lot of the old hockey rivalries are primed to take off once again, and any small problems that can be had with how realignment looks is canceled out by how meaningful this could end up being to the popularity of the NHL in America moving forward.