NHL Conference Realignment 2013 – 2014: New divisions | Respect the Crown | Sports Unbiased

NHL Conference Realignment 2013 – 2014: New divisions

The National Hockey League will have a drastically different conference make up when the 2013/2014 regular season opens on October 1st. The NHL has discarded its old two conference, three division format in favor of a two conference, two division alignment. This shuffle was inevitable when the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg which landed the Jets in the Eastern Conferences Southeast division with the likes of Carolina, Washington and the Florida franchises. A travel conundrum that would not last any longer then this past seasons shorted lockout year. Other franchises like the Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota Wild didn’t quite fit in their old divisions given their geography. So this realignment is an opportunity to correct some of these issues, without disrupting historical rivalries or furthering any unnecessary travel headaches. The NHL succeeded, almost. Let’s take a look at how the 4 new divisions shape up.

Pacific Divisionrsz_conference_images

  • Los Angeles Kings
  • San Jose Sharks
  • Anaheim Ducks
  • Phoenix Coyotes
  • Edmonton Oilers
  • Calgary Flames
  • Vancouver Canucks

Central Division

  • Chicago Blackhawks
  • Colorado Avalanche
  • Dallas Stars
  • St.Louis Blues
  • Nashville Predators
  • Winnipeg Jets
  • Minnesota Wild

Atlantic Division

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Maybe the NHL wanted to honor Glen Metropolit and his 159 career points by naming the Metropolitan division after him?

  • Montreal Canadians
  • Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Boston Bruins
  • Ottawa Senators
  • Buffalo Sabres
  • Detroit Red Wings
  • Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Florida Panthers

Metropolitan Division

  • New York Rangers
  • New York Islanders
  • New Jersey Devils
  • Philadelphia Flyers
  • Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Carolina Hurricanes
  • Columbus Blue Jackets
  • Washington Capitals

This just about looks and feels right. But Gary Bettman and the gang haven’t quite got it right. There are two glaring issues with this alignment. The first being the old Northeast division which now includes Detroit who came over from the West (Correct move) and the two Florida based teams. Bettman has stated many times that divisions and conferences are grouped primarily by geography and are named as such. I do not have a geographical name for a division that includes Toronto, Detroit and Tampa Bay. The Eastern, Atlantic-ish side of North America division? Really roles off the tongue.There is nothing Atlantic about Toronto and Detroit. But this is Bettman’s wish. He wants to hold on to the Eastern-Western conference names, and divisions because he sees them as more “fan friendly”. Nothing says friendly like a little geographical name association. I guess. What does that even mean in the context of a division name? Fan friendly? A quick history lesson. Prior to the conferences being named after their relative positions on the North American continent, the NHL had conferences named the Clarence Campbell conference (Western), and the Prince of Wales conference (Eastern). 1993 was the year Gary Bettman decided to make the change to our current format of an Eastern and Western conference. This is where “fan friendly” comes back into play. It was his justification for the switch, stating that these geographical titles would help fans understand the game better. I think in the 20 years that have since passed, it’s clear that Gary Bettman still underestimates the intelligence of hockey fans if he thought that the Prince of Wales and Clarence Campbell conference names would be simply to much for the average hockey fan to wrap his or her head around. People who have become recent fans of hockey since 1993 might not even realize that each year, prior to the Stanley Cup match up, the Eastern and Western Conference champions are in fact, still awarded the Prince of Wales and Clarence Campbell trophies, respectively.

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