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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Civil War on Ice: A North-South Realignment - Big Tex

The dog days of August - post-free agent signing orgy and pre-training camp - comprise hockey's dry season, when we puckheads must dig deep in the interwebs for hockey news worth mentioning. Failing that, our thoughts turn inward...and the "mad (hockey) scientist" deep within many of us rises to the surface. We might ponder the manner in which a rookie's stats in major junior or the AHL could translate into points at the NHL level, or perhaps offer up a sweet video tribute to a recently-retired star...or we might just take this opportunity to realign the National Hockey League, as jpfdeuce over at Raw Charge did.

I must commend Mr. Fontana for his effort. Obviously, any attempt to tinker with divisions, much less entire conferences, would be met with harsh criticism. Like Garth Algar, some folks will always fear change. Personally, while I disagreed with several aspects of the Raw Charge realignment (hereafter referred to as RCR), I had to applaud the outside-the-box thought that went into it. And, of course, it brought out the mad scientist in me.

I've long been an advocate of swapping Dallas and Colorado, simply to get the Stars out of the Pacific Division (hate those 9:30 starts on school nights!). The RCR got me to thinking about much more radical changes, however. The following is what I came up with:

The New (but not necessarily Improved) NHL:

Northern Conference
Stan Smyl Division: SJS, VAN, EDM, CGY, MIN
Rick Vaive Division: CHI, DET, TOR, OTW, MTL
Barry Beck Division: NYR, NYI, NJD, BUF, BOS

Southern Conference
Robbie Ftorek Division: LAK, ANA, PHX, COL, STL
Gilles Gratton Division: DAL, CAR, ATL, TBL, FLA
Larry Goodenough Division: NSH, WSH, CBJ, PIT, PHI

By dividing the NHL into Northern and Southern conferences, I had hoped to re-create the American Civil War, only on ice...Or maybe I just wanted to spread out the burden of travel currently shouldered by the Western Conference (and get Dallas the hell out of the Pacific Division). In this alignment, most regional/divisional rivalries are preserved. Undoubtedly, the concentration of all six Canadian clubs AND the Original Six in one conference will be met with both cheers and jeers. I can hear the detractors now: "With all the Canadian clubs and the Original Six in the Northern Conference, why would anyone watch (or care about) the Southern Conference?" My answer to that is simple: Because the Southern Conference has Ovechkin, Malkin and Crosby.

So that's my two cents on realigning the NHL. It's definitely new, but is it improved? You be the judge.

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