Realignment has come up lately, but this time it wasn’t an NHL proposal. No, it came from our friend Slack who’s part of the ever-growing SinBin infantry. Slack broke down his proposal for Western Conference realignment in response to my ‘Fear Edmonton‘ article. With the new Seattle arena news, Slack proposed his changes for the NHL Pacific and Central divisions.
Slack’s realignment model:
PACIFIC: Vancouver, Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Las Vegas, Arizona, Dallas
CENTRAL: Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Minnesota, Chicago, St. Louis, Nashville, Colorado
So let’s start with the Pacific. You obviously cannot split up Anaheim, LA, and San Jose. First, it’s the perfect travel triangle for divisional play. If you look at the Metropolitan, most teams could travel by bus to most divisional games. The Rangers, Islanders, and Devils all get to go home after they play each other. So breaking up the California three is not an option. Vancouver is as west as you can get, it wouldn’t make sense for the Canucks to consistently travel to the Midwest. Also, with the possible addition of a Seattle franchise it would set up nicely for a border rivalry. Arizona is a team that could move, but the NHL would like to see a Southwestern rivalry with the Knights.
Next, Slack really beefs up the Pacific by adding the Dallas Stars. Without a doubt one of the leagues most talented teams, the Stars could benefit from Slack’s realignment. Unfortunately, Las Vegas wouldn’t want to play the Stars five times a season. If Dallas got a real goaltender they could sleep through the regular season.
Slack’s Central division really gets exciting, and could be the best in hockey. The main core of Chicago, St.Louis, Nashville, Colorado, and Minnesota are in tact. Winnipeg remains in the Central, but not as the only Canadian team. Slack stacks up the rivalries up north by adding the Flames and the scorching hot Oilers (which is funny when it’s in the same sentence as the word Flames, get it hot, flame, oil). By joining Winnipeg in the Central, it would create a massive Canadian battleground. The travel could be rough on Calgary and Edmonton, but the NHL will love the divisional games between the Jets, Flames, and Oilers. Even though Vancouver will be lost in the shuffle, it doesn’t need the help of a Canadian rivalry like the Jets could. Plus, Seattle and Vancouver will hate each other sooner than later, if they add that 32nd team. Besides the long travel for the western Canadian cities, Slack’s Central will remain one of the NHL’s best division.
As you can see, the NHL could benefit from a guy like Slack. He’s got it all figured out, but how will Las Vegas perform under Slack’s new Western Conference? In one sense, losing Edmonton to the Central could be beneficial for the Knights. Because let’s be serious, this team is for real. The Knights would be happy, for a few reasons, not traveling to Edmonton three times a year. Adding Dallas on the other hand, could be more fun but with little success.
Now I’m not counting out Las Vegas already, but Dallas and Edmonton have brighter futures on paper. It’s essentially, pick your poison for Las Vegas… and Anaheim, LA, Arizona, San Jose, and Vancouver. The Stars and Oilers are two skilled teams with a young, core talent. Something Cup winners have. The Blackhawks are the perfect example. If Las Vegas can build a roster like Chicago did, then who cares about Edmonton or Dallas. The only victories for visiting teams will be up in Pahrump. Bada Bing!