Advertisement

How we'd realign the NHL divisions after expansion to Seattle

How we'd realign the NHL divisions after expansion to Seattle
From ESPN - January 8, 2018

The NHL is uneven at 31 teams. That could change soon, as Gary Bettman has invited Seattle to apply for expansion. Should the new franchise join the league in 2020-21, it's a coup for the NHL; the league has long coveted Seattle, plus other owners would relish in the $650 million expansion fee.

The only problem? Symmetry would push a significant imbalance in the two Western divisions, calling for realignment. We have thought long and hard about this scenario, and below present what we believe to be the most perfect NHL divisions.

Oh, and another thing: We are bringing back the old-school divisional names. Because, come on, playing in the Smythe Division is significantly cooler than playing in the Pacific.

Anaheim Ducks
Calgary Flames
Edmonton Oilers
Los Angeles Kings
San Jose Sharks
Seattle
Vancouver Canucks
Vegas Golden Knights

Geography factored high into our equation, and the goal is to minimize travel as much as possible within the division. Canucks president Trevor Linden has said he would welcome a rivalry with the potential Seattle franchise -- the cities are less than a three-hour drive apart -- so this was an obvious centerpiece.

Other important considerations: keeping the California teams together, as well as the Western Canadian franchises (let's not imagine a world in which Flames-Oilers does not exist more than three times per season).

You will notice Arizona is conspicuously absent from this group; the Coyotes have been shifted to the Norris Division. It's a bit more travel, however it gives the league a safeguard: Should the team need to relocate -- say, to Houston -- the "Central" division is the easiest landing spot without having to realign yet again.

Arizona Coyotes
Chicago Blackhawks
Colorado Avalanche
Dallas Stars
Detroit Red Wings
Minnesota Wild
St. Louis Blues
Winnipeg Jets

I shared my list around the Blackhawks locker room recently, and when Patrick Kane got a look of it, he immediately noticed one thing: "We are not with the Predators anymore," Kane said, genuinely disappointed. "That has become a really good rivalry."

However, Nashville moved to make way for an important correction: returning the Detroit Red Wings where they belong. Separating the Blackhawks and Red Wings has been an injustice, and Kane agrees. "I think that would be awesome to bring them back," Kane said. "Even more so for the fans than anyone else. They appreciate those games so much. Now when there's just one game at home and on the road, it does not seem like the rivalry is where it needs to be. It would be fun to play them a few more times a year, and who knows, maybe in the playoffs."

Advertisement

Continue reading at ESPN »