UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- After having a chance to digest the realignment setup agreed to at the NHL Board of Governors meeting on Monday, Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher was philosophical.
"I woke up and thought, 'Let's just build a practice rink in Vermont. That's a good solution,'" he said with a smile during a Tuesday media scrum.
Under the new setup, the Lightning and Florida Panthers are grouped with Boston, Buffalo, Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa. The demise of the Southeast Division will mean fewer trips to Carolina and Washington and plenty of time in New England, Western New York and Eastern Canada.
"It's difficult to understand why Carolina, which is an hour away, is not in our conference," he said, "We've built a rivalry with Washington and they're gone too.
"Let's not kid ourselves -- we're going to have more travel, and we're going to have to deal with it."
But Boucher also said he realizes that trying to juggle an alignment that would make all 30 teams happy was going to be impossible.
"I'm sure the League worked extremely hard trying to do something that makes sense -- and it's difficult to make sense of 'not enough teams for here and there,' and you're stuck," he said. "I can see how difficult it must have been for them to make something that made sense, to keep the rivalries.
"You look at Boston -- they're pretty close to the other teams and could have been in the other division, but they've got rivalries with Buffalo and Montreal, the old Adams Division. Do you want to separate Pittsburgh and Philly? I think it was very difficult for them to decide what to do."
One thing Boucher said is sure to continue is that his team will be a popular destination for teams to bring their fathers along on road trips.
"We'll see that all year long," he said. "Everyone's got their 'Father's Trip' in Tampa."