With the NHL having shot down schedule changes and realignment for next season, the Wings will be stuck once again playing 8 games against “rivals” such as Columbus, Nashville and St. Louis. They will not meet any team from the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division. The Northeast Division will not visit Joe Louis Arena.
Being a fan who wants to see the Red Wings play teams that actually have a rivalry with rather than teams that the league wants to manufacture a rivaly with, this was disappointing to see. As I’m not the only disappointed one, proposals for how to realign the league, change up the schedule, or both, have been springing up all over the place. I thought I’d share mine…
Five divisions of six teams used strictly for regular season scheduling. Two conferences fo fifteen teams used strictly for playoff seeding. Teams belong to a division and a conference, the division does not belong to the conference.
So you’ve got an alignment something like the following:
Div 1: FLA, TB, ATL, NSH, CAR, WSH
Div 2: PHI, NJ, NYR, NYI, BOS, BUF
Div 3: MTL, OTT, TOR, DET, CBJ, PIT
Div 4: CHI, StL, MIN, DAL, COL, PHX
Div 5: CAL, EDM, VAN, SJ, ANA, LA
In the regular season, each team plays two games against inter-division teams, six against intra-division teams, and two against two pre-specified rivals for a total of 82.
At the end of the season, the teams are seeded by conference. Conferences would be the same as they are now. No top seeds to division winners (but I’m willing to let that go).
Since the schedule is already unbalanced, it doesn’t make a difference if Nashville beats up on the former Southeast Division teams all season and then goes on to play Western Conference teams in the playoffs, since that’s no difference from them beating up on St. Louis and Columbus and Chicago before going on to face Calgary in the playoffs.
It’s hardly a perfect solution but it allows teams to face everyone at home and on the road and still have games left to play their rivals. The realignment allows more of those rivals to be in the same division.