The National Hockey League (NHL) for the past decade has had two work stoppages. Luckily, for it’s fans the lockouts ended. They players eventually went back to work, however not all of the NHL stars were allowed to play in each arena. For the past couple of years the NHL has run a two-conference system (West and East), each comprising of three divisions each (Northwest, Pacific, Central, Northeast, Southeast and Atlantic). When the league resumed play after the first lockout in 2004, the NHL wanted to focus on building rivalries and more divisional games. Although, this built local rivalries it robbed fans of the opportunity to see all of the NHL’s stars in each of its arenas. As Western conference teams would only play Eastern conference teams once a season, alternating home games each season. That means some of the games biggest stars like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin would only come to Western conference arenas once every two years.
After the most recent lockout in 2012, there were changes made both to the league and the way it viewed marketing it’s stars. With the introduction of the Winnipeg Jets to the league after relocation from Atlanta, the NHL knew that division realignment was a must. This was done to help the NHL market it’s stars to all of its teams. In the 2013-2014 season the NHL will retain a two-conference system (West and East), now compromising of two divisions each (Pacific, Central, Atlantic and Metropolitan). This now means that each team will play in each other’s arena both home and away once per season this give fans the opportunity to see all of the NHL stars.
Now it’s time to take a look at: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly with the NHL realignment
The Good: Each team will play each other home and away, which gives the NHL fans a chance to see every team in their city at least once. This will help the NHL market it’s stars like Sidney Crosby better, and will make sure no matter what team wins the Stanley Cup they will be at every NHL arena the following season.
The Bad: This will cut down on intra-divisional rivalries and make it much harder to catch teams in your conference to improve playoff position.
The Ugly: Travel! Western conference teams are far more used to the travel, however this new balanced schedule will force Eastern conference teams to travel more. With this increased travel for teams this could greatly decrease the overall level of play. This will also force many teams to play multiple games in short spans.
Overall, this NHL realignment is a good thing for the league and it’s fans, but let us know what you think of the NHL realignment in the comment section below.