NHL realigns teams to optimize travel

The NHL has decided to shake things up.

The Board of Governors approved an extreme realignment on Monday that will produce four conferences. Eight team comprise two conferences while seven comprise the other two. The new format will take effect for the 2012-13 season.

For the Sharks, the realignment means they will see Detroit, Dallas and Chicago less. Under the new configuration, the Sharks will play each of the other seven teams in their conference five or six times a season, while they play the other 22 teams twice a season, once at home and once on the road.

This season, the Sharks play the hated Red Wings four times. Next year, they will face them just twice. So Sharks fans will have just one chance to spit venom at their rivals in the Shark Tank.

The four conferences will optimize travel for all teams. Following last season, the Atlanta Thrashers were relocated to Winnipeg, but the franchise remained in the Southeast division with Florida, Carolina, Tampa Bay and Washington. Hmm, which one of these cities doesn’t belong?

The new unnamed groupings will look like this:

  1. San Jose Sharks
  2. Los Angeles Kings
  3. Anaheim Ducks
  4. Phoenix Coyotes
  5. Colorado Avalanche
  6. Vancouver Canucks
  7. Edmonton Oilers
  8. Calgary Flames
  1. Chicago Blackhawks
  2. Columbus Blue Jackets
  3. Dallas Stars
  4. Detroit Red Wings
  5. Minnesota Wild
  6. Nashville Predators
  7. St. Louis Blues
  8. Winnipeg Jets
  1. Boston Bruins
  2. Buffalo Sabres
  3. Florida Panthers
  4. Montreal Canadians
  5. Ottawa Senators
  6. Tampa Bay Lightning
  7. Toronto Maple Leafs
  1. Carolina Hurricanes
  2. New Jersey Devils
  3. New York Islanders
  4. New York Rangers
  5. Philadelphia Flyers
  6. Pittsburgh Penguins
  7. Washington Capitols

The NHL may be breaking up rivalries, but for a league that occupies the fourth sport in this country, optimizing costs is the price of business.

If you have suggestions for names of the four conferences, leave a comment! Maybe we’ll forward to best ideas to Gary Bettman.