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Realignment: the good and the bad

by Jason Johnson / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- The NHL Board of governors approved a radical new four conference Divisional alignment on Monday which proves to be one of the most drastic changes in the modern day NHL.

The change will see the Flames aligned with Anaheim, Colorado, Los Angeles, Edmonton, Phoenix, San Jose and Vancouver in a yet-to-be-named Conference. The most glaring disadvantage from an East-West perspective is the fact that the Eastern conference teams have a much better chance at a playoff berth.

“There’s going to be positives and negatives for everything.” said Flames blueliner Scott Hannan. “I think the travel for some teams will be better. It will be different for sure but I haven’t had a chance to soak it all in yet.”

While the Western Conference’s each house eight teams in their Conference, the Eastern Conferences have seven. With four teams in each of the four conferences making the playoffs it means the chance of a Western Conference entering the post-season is slightly less at 50% than that of an Eastern Conference Team at 57%.

Alex Tanguay expressed his concern for the new structure. “It’s clearly the owner’s decision. As far as I’m concerned I don’t think it’s fair that in some Conference’s you have to beat three teams to get into the playoffs and in some you have to beat four.”

He went on to say that the realignment does have its advantages “As far as the location goes I like to play in every building and sometimes you don’t even get to go home to play. So I think it’s great for the fans.”

The Eastern Conference teams have always had a much easier travel schedule and this new landscape at least closes the gap a little in comparison to the West.

“I like that idea, absolutely” said Flames captain Jarome Iginla. “We definitely do a lot more travelling than the Eastern teams, they rarely leave their time zone.”

The most obvious advantage from a Flames point of view is the fact that fans will now see every team at least once every season. Players like Crobsy, Malkin, Ovechkin and Stamkos will land in Calgary every year rather than every two or three years. The game’s biggest star, Sidney Crobsy, just entered his sixth NHL season yet Flames fans have only had three opportunities to see him.

It also makes sense for teams like Detroit who traveled through three time zones in the first two rounds of the playoffs last season making it difficult to market the brand to their fans that had to stay up until 10:00 PM local time just to watch the opening faceoff.

Overall it looks like the NHL is heading in the right direction. With a few tweaks and the possibility of some changes to balance out the issues it could turn out to be a good solution.

How the final Conference standings would have looked last season with the new realignment:

1 Vancouver 82 54 19 9 117 50 262 185 +77 27-9-5 27-10-4
2 San Jose 82 48 25 9 105 43 248 213 +35 25-11-5 23-14-4
3 Anaheim 82 47 30 5 99 43 239 235 +4 26-13-2 21-17-3
4 Phoenix 82 43 26 13 99 38 231 226 +5 21-13-7 22-13-6
5 Los Angeles 82 46 30 6 98 36 219 198 +21 25-13-3 21-17-3
6 Calgary 82 41 29 12 94 32 250 237 +13 23-13-5 18-16-7
7 Colorado 82 30 44 8 68 24 227 288 -61 16-21-4 14-23-4
8 Edmonton 82 25 45 12 62 23 193 269 -76 13-22-6 12-23-6

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