The NHL Board of Governors' decision to approval realignment into a four-conference format beginning next season has created a bevy of questions about the new configuration; foremost, what will happen to the geographically specific (but at times inaccurate) names that currently describe the League's six divisions?
The speculation has run from the obvious (the current names, minus two of them) to the nostalgic (Patrick, Adams, Norris, Smythe) to the absurd (BizNasty's "Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., Easy-E, Big Pun"). Check out all the options at the #NHLConferenceNames hash tag on Twitter.
You pals at Puck Daddy decided to have our own go at new conference names, based on this alignment:
Greg Wyshynski, Editor
Conference A shall be known as the SCEPVLAC Conference because this entire realignment frightens and confuses me, so I need a mnemonic device to ensure I'll always remember which teams inhabit the SCEPVLAC Conference. Until I inevitably forget that the 'S' stands for 'San Jose.'
Conference B shall be known as the Norris Division, because the name means chaos and blood and players beating each other up and then having a beer after the game. All of those things that would make a Blue Jackets/Jets game tolerable.
Conference C shall be known as the Snowbird Division, both because of the Canadian fans and New England fans that will attend the games in Florida; and because we imagine the trophy would be an ice sculpture of a seagull.
Conference D shall be known as the Ed Snider Division of Excellence, because he's the reason the Flyers and the Penguins are together, and together in the same division as the Rangers, and that there's a television network to show the games.
But in the end, the NHL will likely opt for the Atlantic, Northeast, Central and Pacific.
Sean Leahy, Associate Editor
I'm a sucker for nostalgia, so of course I'm going to choose the Patrick, Adams, Norris, and Smythe.
We're already going back to divisional play in the postseason, why not keep things old school? I'm a little iffy on naming things after people still alive, and while the idea of the Lemieux, Gretzky, Orr, Howe divisions is nice and all, will fans of any of the rivals that played against those four greats want to celebrate a title named after them?
But really, let's just prepare for Gary Bettman's love of geography and settle in for the Atlantic, Northeast, Central and Pacific conferences/divisions when this all shakes out.
Harrison Mooney, Associate Editor
While my secret hope is that the four conferences are named after the members of ABBA, just to see how Don Cherry reacts to the European flavour, I don't think the Lyngstad, Ulvaeus, Andersson, and Faltskog conferences are in the NHL's future.
My nightmare is that the conferences are given names like Gretzky, Lemieux, Orr, and Howe, which just rubs me the wrong way. I understand that these guys were the best players to play the game, but can we please stop clamouring to name everything that can possibly be named after them, if only for awhile? Not a year goes by that someone doesn't pitch rechristening the NHL awards in their honour.
As far as I'm concerned, not enough time has passed. Bobby Orr still appears in Tim Horton's commercials on the regular. Just give it some time.
If it's hockey names of yore that people really want, my suggestions would be Stuart, Morenz, Bailey, and Seibert. Those were the names of the four men for whom the first four All-Star games in hockey history were organized. Each was a benefit game put together after the men had suffered a severe injury or passed away.
My personal preference, bland as it may be, is to name these new conferences based on geography, especially if that's how they're grouped. I'd be happy with something like the Pacific Coast, Midwest, Eastern, and Atlantic Coast conferences.
I think it would be even cooler to name them leagues, rather than conferences, so as to give winning each league some sense of accomplishment. Major League Baseball has two separate leagues within its league and I've always found that charming.
That would be especially cool for the Pacific Coast League, which was also the name of the first hockey league on the Pacific Coast.
Dmitry Chesnokov, Senior Writer
CONF A: Smythe
CONF B: Adams
CONF C: Eastern
CONF D: Patrick
Everything new is old again. We are coming a full circle to return to the good old days of the NHL. I do think that whatever conference the Coyotes play in should be called the Bettman Conference.
CONF A: Pacific
CONF B: Central
CONF C: Eastern
CONF D: Atlantic
It's obvious that all of these conferences were put together using the geography and the location of the clubs. The two Florida teams in the Eastern Conference are placed together with Northeastern teams because a) a lot of retirees from the North East come to settle in Florida and will surely boost the much needed attendance and revenue for the southern clubs; and b) playing in Florida in mid-January will be a nice relief for the northern teams.
Ryan Lambert, Columnist
Wales, Campbell, Pearson, Clancy
I think you have to honor the old conference names and obviously the other two are just "Builders of the Game." I picked Pearson especially to get his name back in there after Ted Lindsay squeezed him out.
It'll end up being something boring like East, Atlantic, Midwest, West.
1. Conference One — Selanne Conference. One conference should be named in favor of a great European star, and Selanne is one of the greatest, not to mention he won a Stanley Cup in Anaheim. The NHL wants to attract more American viewers, especially on the West Coast, so it only makes sense to go with a superstar from a California-based team not named Gretzky who actually won a championship playing for one of those teams. Yes, Canadian fans will howl it should be the Gretzky Conference, but c'mon, hockey's not a hard sell in Western Canada.
2. Conference Two — Hawerchuk. Conference. One of the conferences should bear the name of a Canadian star, and with all the hooplah over Winnipeg's return to the NHL, it just seems right that it should be Dale Hawerchuk. Yes, I know, Chicago and Detroit have more illustrious histories, and Dallas at least has a championship in its recent past, but we've gotta give the Canadian teams something, so it makes sense to build on the love fest with Winnipeg.
3. Conference Three — Bourque Conference. Yes, the easy choice would be Orr or Richards, but naming it after Ray Bourque is the best of both worlds: a Quebec-born superstar who played all but two seasons for the Bruins, therefore honoring the two most historic teams in that Conference. Plus, it'll piss off Leafs Nation, while building up the inferiority complex of Buffalo and Ottawa fans, and further alienating Florida hockey fans, who are probably used to it by now.
4. Conference Four — Lamoriello Conference. Lou has been among the most influential men in the league, one of the powers behind Bettman's throne. Lou's powers of influence may be waning, but this would be a good way for Bettman to bestow one last honor upon one of his best lieutenants. And it's a good way to suck up to Wyshynski...
In all seriousness, they'll probably be called the Gretzky, Howe or Richard, Orr and Lemieux conferences.
I want old school. Smythe, Norris, Adams, Patrick.
If we are turning back the clock on the playoffs, we may as well turn it back on the division, err, conference names. That's what I grew up with and still dig (if I could get the North Stars name back from Dallas I'd be all set). Plus, it would make the N.H.L. different from the other 3 leagues and their boring geographic divisions and conferences. Finally, I'd rather have a Norris banner then a Central one anyday.
But, I'm guessing the N.H.L. won't throw it all the way back, so it will be Pacific, Central, Eastern, Atlantic.
I would imagine that the often unimaginative NHL will label the conferences based on geography, again feeling that it will somehow help Americans follow and understand the league better. I also imagine that most opinions will to in some way honor hockey greats - Gretzky, Lemieux, Orr, Howe or perhaps a hat tip to some great executives or coaches - Bowman, Arbour, Blake, etc.
If you really want to increase interest and ratings in the product, name the conferences after hot hockey wives and girlfriends:
1. The Hilary Duff Conference
2. The Kelly Kelly Conference
3. The Elisha Cuthbert Conference
4. The Rachel Hunter Conference
Or what about a concussion awareness set up, reminding us of some great hockey careers that were cut short?
1. The Lindros Conference
2. The Primeau Conference
3. The Savard Conference
4. The LaFontaine Conference
Or how about an homage to great European stars who couldn't make it work in the NHL? You know, to exemplify how the NHL is best league in the world...
1. The Jiri Dopita Conference
2. The Eero Suomorvari Conference
3. The Pavel Rosa Conference
4. Nikolai Zherdev Conference
An homage to the NHLPA's great leadership?
1. The Alan Eagleson Conference
2. The Bob Goodenow Conference
3. The Paul Kelly Conference
4. The Ted Saskin Conference
A hat tip to failed NHL cities?
1. The Atlanta Conference
2. The Atlanta Conference
3. The Hartford Conference
4. The Kansas City Conference