**UPDATE at 6:12 PM Pacific**
TSN Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger both reporting that the NHL's Board of Governors have approved a new four-"conference" realignment of the NHL.
With all of the speculation surrounding the NHL’s Board of Governors meetings just down the road in Pebble Beach on Monday, I asked Sharks broadcasters Randy Hahn, Jamie Baker and Dan Rusanowsky to summarize their thoughts on the potential realignment plans.
In case you missed all of the coverage on the topic
, there seems to be two schools of thought: the first is a simple one-for-one swap
where the Winnipeg Jets switch with either the Columbus Blue Jackets or the Detroit Red Wings, and the second, a more complicated four-division proposal
that could have a significant impact League-wide.
Randy Hahn’s view:
I have two main thoughts on the whole realignment issue:
1. A completely interlocking schedule. It's time we got back to a schedule that has every team playing every other team in the League at least once, both home and away. It cheats the fans that they only get to see some of the Eastern Conference teams and their stars once every two years. You build interest in all of the teams and all of the players by exposing them to your fans on a regular basis.
2. If you are on the Pacific Coast you should be in the Pacific Division (Vancouver, LA, SJ, Anaheim), and if you are in an Eastern Time Zone you should be in the Eastern Conference (Detroit, Columbus).
Jamie Baker’s view:
I like Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford's idea of 20 teams making the playoffs
with a short best-of-three series of the bottom eight teams to determine who makes the final 16. Then re-slot all 16 teams based on points. This won't pass, but I think it's the best for fans that aren't concerned with additional travel.
My second preference is the four-“conference” proposal on the table.
I definitely want Sharks fans to see every team every year; so cool to have all of the Original Six teams visit HP Pavilion every year with some of the top young stars in the game.
Dan Rusanowsky’s view:
My immediate thoughts, Columbus goes to Eastern Conference, Winnipeg to Western Conference. Detroit stays in West with Chicago (Original Six teams). Keeping it simple, here is realignment simplified to current six-division, two-conference format:
Western Conference: 15 teams, 3 Divisions
Colorado to Pacific, Winnipeg to Northwest and Dallas to Central
Eastern Conference: 15 teams, 3 Divisions
Columbus to Southeast, Detroit stays in Western Conference
Play all teams in your own division 4+4=8 games each for a total of 32 divisional games. Play all other teams 1+1=2 for a total of 50 games outside of division. Do your best to keep all games after All-Star or Olympic break within the team’s time zone. At a minimum ensure inter-conference games done by break.
Playoffs: Top eight teams in each conference qualify with current tiebreakers. Division champions get home ice in each of first two rounds. No brackets. Same system as it is now to reward regular season success and encourage competition.
Then, re-seed for Round 3 like the old Original Six days. 1 plays 4 and 2 plays 3 for the right to go to the Final. 1 vs. 3 and 2 vs. 4 is an interesting alternative (they did that at one time).
Lastly, retire Prince of Wales Trophy/Campbell Bowl to Hall of Fame (better) or give them to regular season conference champions (acceptable).
All Eyes on 17-Mile Drive
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