Hockey Night in Canada's Hot Stove Report had a great segment in the upcoming NHL realignment debate, set to simmer at the Board of Governors meeting next week in Pebble Beach.
As we reported earlier this week, there are two proposals the NHL will present, without endorsement: a one-for-one swap that would keep the current conference format, move Winnipeg to the Central Division and move another Central team (likely the Detroit Red Wings) to the Eastern Conference; and a more radical realignment that would trash the divisions, go with four "conferences" and look very much like the setup above.
Congratulations on your additional frequent flyer miles, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning; as well as the huge snowbird crowds against divisional rivals.
For what it's worth, the Panthers faithful on Litter Box Cats have overwhelmingly endorsed this format. And as an old Patrick Division fan ... welcome home, Washington Capitals.
Plus, no more "Dallas on the Pacific," which will make Dallas Stars fans happy.
Under this proposal, every team in the League will play home and home at least once every season. The first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs would be played within each division/conference, pumping up regional rivalries.
One of the driving forces behind the realignment were travel concerns from teams like the Red Wings.
But one NHL GM told Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun, via HNIC, that he believes there will be 20,000 miles of additional travel and $1 million in additional travel costs for each team. The NHL estimates it's much closer to 5,000.
Another wrinkle: That instead of radical realignment, the Jets could flip one-to-one with … the Columbus Blue Jackets, according to Sportsnet's John Shannon.
As was mentioned on Hot Stove, Gary Bettman and the Western Conference favor the radical realignment; does it have enough support in the East to make it happen?
Better question: Are there enough Bettman acolytes in the East that'll push it through and give it the two-thirds support it needs? These guys are always hesitant to enact radical change. But the commissioner can be very persuasive — how else can you explain the continued ownership of the Coyotes?