OT: Realignment would split Wings, Blackhawks

Submitted by StephenRKass on February 26th, 2013 at 4:20 PM

In an article in the Chicago Tribune, a proposed NHL realignment of conferences would put the Red Wings in the Eastern Conference and the Blackhawks in the Western Conference.

(LINK:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/breaking/chi-blackhawks-red-wings-realignment-20130226,0,4934764.story)

There is more commentary on this at the WWL. 

Somehow, it just seems wrong to pull apart these traditional Central Division rivals who were part of the league's original six teams. I know I'm a grumpy old man, but why can't they leave things like this alone? I hate it at Michigan, in the Big 10, and now in the NHL. Even though I'm a Blackhawk's fan, I don't like this a bit.

EDIT:  I am very thankful to the Red Wings for declining to resign Marian Hossa. He has been a critical part of the Blackhawks.



February 26th, 2013 at 4:24 PM ^

Doesn't this mean that they can be back with the Leafs again?  If that's the case, it's an even swap for me. 

The plan that they came up with a few years ago was the most ingenius idea a professional sports league has ever come up with.  And they shot it down.  RRRG.  I still can't believe it.  It would have been so wonderful. 


February 26th, 2013 at 4:37 PM ^

It was a conference-less set of four divisions, all based geographically.  You played the teams in your division five or six times, and you got to play everyone else in the league at least twice.  It preserved all of the regional rivalries while letting fans see at least one home game with every team. 

I can't remember exactly how the playoffs worked.  The first round might have been in-division.

It has been a while.  I just remember salivating over it, only to be completely heartbroken when the players shot it down.


February 26th, 2013 at 6:57 PM ^

Not true. When we have a full season, the west plays every eastern team once, not twice. I only know bc I go to almost every DET-CAR game due to growing up a DET fan and becoming a CAR fan due to Compuware and the relocation of my family to NC. They play once a year... Home and home in football terms, yes. Home in DET one year, CAR the next.


February 26th, 2013 at 4:38 PM ^

As a Hawks fan, I hate it, but I'm not sure what the answer is. They need to re-align. The 4 pod idea before the lockout made some sense, it just sucks that we'll get the shaft alone (as opposed to getting the shaft with the wings all these years).

Being the one odd original six team out would suck... but the NHL has to do something.

Of course, at least the league leadership has shown itself to not be the worst management of a major sport in North America.....


Charlestown Chiefs

February 26th, 2013 at 7:08 PM ^

No biggie.  Hopefully they can keep the Original Six match ups occuring a bit more frequently than the other match ups.  The restructuring of the conferences helps a bit on that.  It would definitely be a shame to not play the Hawks as much.  I will hate seeing more Leafs and Habs fans down at the Joe but at least the place will be packed.


February 26th, 2013 at 7:24 PM ^

Looking at the Tribune article, this looked like realigning some teams, but looking at it more in-depth it seems like what you said above matters more with them going to a four division format. Obviously New York isn't competing for playoff spots with 4/6 in this proposal, but will they definitely be playing the block of O6 teams more than Chicago will? I'd assume the answer has to be yes, but I don't know for sure.

I haven't found anything that definitely clarifies what the regular season schedule would be, beyond guaranteeing a home and home with the other twenty-nine teams.

Charlestown Chiefs

February 26th, 2013 at 7:35 PM ^

I agree with your assumptions although it doesn't seem they have narrowed down exactly how everything will work.  I'm just hoping the league sees the value of Original Six games and especially right now the Wings vs Hawks games.  Of course this means that they will probably find a way for them to play even less.  Why think of the fans for a change?


February 26th, 2013 at 4:29 PM ^

As a Wings fan, I'm cool with it.


It means much less travel, more normally-timed games, and matchups against more original six teams.  I'd honestly much rather have games against Toronto and Montreal than have to listen to Chelsea Dagger again.


We'll still play the hawks a couple times a year.  And the hawks have only gotten good again recently (after tanking for a couple seasons in a row and racking up a bunch of top draft picks).  Nobody was talking about the rivalry back in 1997-2000.

PB-J Time

February 26th, 2013 at 4:33 PM ^

What happened to the idea of 4 small conferences? (2 8-team & 2 7-team) I loved the idea. Every team would have a home-and-home with every other team. Made a lot of sense, renewed good rivalries. I know the NHLPA opposed it because they were gearing up for lockout and catagorically refused anything from the front office. But what gives? That was a good idea (one of the few out of Bettman's office)


February 26th, 2013 at 4:33 PM ^

Less travel, and more games with Toronto, Boston and Montreal. No more division games against Nashville and Columbus is also great. On top of that, the Wings have significantly fewer west coast games, so fans can watch most of their games.

I believe that Detroit would still play Chicago at least once a year at home and away, so they would not completely be off the schedule. To be perfectly honest, I would like to have seen all orignial six teams together in one conference, but Bettman would never let that happen.


February 26th, 2013 at 4:33 PM ^

I say this in all sincerity to Chicago fans, but id trade the Chicago rivalry to play the Leafs, Canadiens, and Bruins multiple times a year. Not having to wait up for 10:30pm playoff games is just an added bonus. The Wings belong in the east.

Stephen Hawking

February 26th, 2013 at 4:33 PM ^

I guess the traveling makes sense... Red Wings fans would be able to see more games in locales closer to Detroit. I have many friends on both sides of that game and it makes watching the games a ton of fun since Chicago and Detroit are rivals in most sports. I'm a Blackhawks fan too and I would be sad to see fewer games against the Wings.

Tommy Want Wingy

February 26th, 2013 at 4:36 PM ^

As a Wings fan, I'm all for it. Its unfortunate to lose Chicago, but is far outweighed by the travel benefits (especially come playoff time), and being in the same division as Montreal, Toronto, and Boston. Who really got shafted was Nashville. They have wanted to move to the East for a few years, and the Wings are their biggest draw every year. Now instead of 6 games vs. Det, try get replaced with Dallas, Colorado, and Winnipeg.

Bangkok Soiree

February 26th, 2013 at 4:43 PM ^

Well too bad for the Blackhawks. Frankly, the Wings deserve better.  They've been keeping the Western Conference afloat for 20 years playing every screwball team the NHL dreams up (the Mighty Ducks, Phoenix Coyotes, etc.).  It's been a complete joke.  And then you add to that the amount of travel the Wings have had to put up with during the regular season and the playoffs.  It's amazing the Wings won as many games as they did during that era.   

Number 7

February 26th, 2013 at 4:47 PM ^

Sucks to be Chicago, but great for the Wings. Back in he Norris Div days, the Leafs were a bigger rival than the hawks, so it'll be great to renew that. And as a east Pasteur, the prospect of as many wings games in Boston as there are tigers games is awesome.

Guess the hawks will have to pretend st Louis is sort of like O-6.

Also, wonder why they don't swp Columbus into the wings division and put Tampa in he Atlantic...


February 26th, 2013 at 4:51 PM ^

when they pulled apart the Wings and Leafs years ago to realign the league then.  This is just trading one bad realignment for another.


More Canadians, Maple Leafs, Rangers, Bruins, Penguins.


Less Coyotes, Sharks, Ducks, 


I'm good with it.


February 26th, 2013 at 4:52 PM ^

I have seen the realignment plans.  I like them, but I'd still prefer pure geopraphic divisions.  They could have kept Chicago and Detroit together by making Detroit part of the Midwest, along with Columbus, Toronto, and maybe even Buffalo.  But for some reason, they have lumped Florida and Tampa Bay in with Detroit, Toronto, and Montreal.  I assume that this is some kind of move to spread out the shitty Southern NHL markets across the divisions to keep them interested.  I would have rather seen Phoenix, Nashville, Dallas, Washington, Carolina, Florida, and Tampa Bay all put into one. 


February 26th, 2013 at 7:37 PM ^

To create an NHL south would cause a lot of those teams suffer from an attendance standpoint. No a strong desire to see a Carolina-Florida "rivalry" game. I would really like to do an analysis of the home attendance for those teams when they play each other vs when they play original 6 teams and other popular teams like Pittsburgh.


February 27th, 2013 at 8:37 AM ^

I think that you're probably right about the attendance.  They've got to keep those markets interested and games against Carolina or Dallas won't do it.

I wish that Columbus was still in our division though.  Detroit is by far the best natural rival for Columbus.  Even though it's not college sports, that Michigan vs Ohio feel would be there in full force if both teams were ever good at the same time. 


February 26th, 2013 at 4:52 PM ^

 I’m not really sure how Boston and Florida (Miami) are both in the Central while Columbus and Pittsburgh are in the Atlantic.  You can practically spit in the Atlantic from the arena in Miami......well, a short drive and a spit. 

Somebody at the league office has a problem with geography.


February 26th, 2013 at 5:11 PM ^

The reality really is that this is better for the Wings, although it is crummy for the Hawks. If I were a Wings fan, I would want to cut down on trips to the West Coast, and cut in half the number of games starting so late.

The other thing is that you have to realign for the good of the entire league. Sure, I'd love to have the original six together in the same division, but the weaker teams need both traditional teams and big market teams to come to town in order to sell tickets. Let's face it, the original six sell tickets, as do a few additional teams from large markets (Philadelphia, Islanders, maybe Pittsburgh and St. Louis a bit, and maybe a couple other Canadian teams.) While I don't like it, I reluctantly have to agree it makes more sense to realign. Maybe not exactly this way, but in some way to get the Wings out of so much travel west.


February 26th, 2013 at 5:22 PM ^

I don't want the Wings to be in the division with my second favorite team, the Habs, but aside from my rooting interests it certainly looks to be a good move.  

The issue of divisions not being fair still remains, with 8 teams in the Eastern conferences (50% chance at playoffs) and only 7 in both Western conferences (57% chance at playoffs).  



February 26th, 2013 at 5:27 PM ^

Its a big step forward, but they sacrificed some geography for the sake of competititve balance (and for the sake of not splitting up Montreal, Toronto, and Boston.) Id rather not have 4 original 6 teams in one division, because that increases the odds that original 6 teams will be kept out of the playoffs every year. I like Boston and the two Florida teams in the "Atlantic" division and Pittsburgh, Philly, and Columbus in the "Central" instead of the other way around. We're losing our playoff rivalry with the Avalanche for good, but picking up a divisional one with Pittsburgh would be intense.

I like:




Boston-Washington-Rangers-Islanders-New Jersey-Carolina-Florida-Tampa

They got the West right. You could split it up north and south so Edmonton and Phoenix, and Winnipeg and Dallas aren't in the same divisions, though. 

I'd also like:




Los Angeles-Anaheim-San Jose-Phoenix-Dallas-St Louis-Nashville