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NHL realignment: So what do you think? (also, suggested conference names)


The official release from the NHL regarding a radical realignment propsal that must be approved by the NHLPA, but should begin for the 2012-13 season:

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (Dec. 5, 2011) — The National Hockey League Board of Governors tonight approved a four-Conference alignment format and authorized Commissioner Gary Bettman to implement this proposal, pending input from the National Hockey League Players’ Association. The format would create two eight-team Conferences and two seven-team conferences.

Under the format, every team would play every other team outside its conference twice — once home, once away.

In the seven-team Conferences, teams would play six times — three home, three away. In the eight-team Conferences, teams would play either five or six times in a season on a rotating basis; three teams would play each other six times and four teams would play each other five times. This process would reverse each season: An eight-team Conference member that plays an opponent six times in one season would play it five times the following season.

The top four teams in each Conference qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The first-place team would play the fourth-place team; the second-place team would play the third-place team. The four respective Conference champions would meet in the third round of the Playoffs, with the survivors playing for the Stanley Cup.

A look at the conferences, as yet to be named (our suggestions for the names):

= CONFERENCE A (Gretzky Conference?)





Los Angeles


San Jose


= CONFERENCE B (Howe Conference?)







St. Louis


=CONFERENCE C (Orr Conference?)






Tampa Bay


=CONFERENCE D (Lemieux Conference?)


New Jersey

NY Islanders

NY Rangers




OK, so we here on the Trib’s hockey team want to hear from the dear readers about what do and do not like about this proposal. Please include your FULL NAME and HOMETOWN and check back soon for a gathering of the best responses.

Email or Tweet us at JoshYohe_Trib or RobRossi_Trib




Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.


  1. Mike Knerr says:

    Hometown: Macungie, PA

    I personally could not hate this realignment plan more. It’s ridiculous to think that only 1 out of Pit/Phi/Was/NYR will go on to the third round in a given year, and that the Pens will only play Mtl, Bos, TB, Buf, etc twice a year! Not to mention the awful repetitiveness of the first two rounds of the playoffs. Absolute trash.

    Better solution: Winnipeg to NW, Van to Pacific, Dallas to Central, Detroit to Southeast. Problem solved, most people happy. How is that not easier?!

  2. Jon Little says:

    I think it is fans and dollars lost once you get to the semis in the playoffs. Pens, Flyers, Rangers, and Caps will consistently physically beat each other in the playoffs to point that they will be exhausted when the winner makes the semis let alone the finals.
    Jon Little
    Lower Burrell, PA

  3. Likes: -dividing up the Southleast division. what a joke they are.
    -every team plays every other team in each venue.

    Dislikes: -Playoffs. Terrible. same matchups,over and over, every year.Why not seed 1-16,2-15 ect. or make 1-8 two conferences.
    -unbalanced divisions. how do you call yourself a real league when top 4 or 7 make the playoffs in two divisions, and the top 4 of 8 make the playoffs in the other. teams in the west will make the playoffs instead of better clubs in the east.
    -still havent solved 3 point games. either go back to a tie or have 3 points for a regulation win. again, not a real league if some games are worth 2 points and some are worth 3. Everyting is more confusing. How do you attract more fans this way.

  4. wendy says:

    From monaca, pa the one thing I didn’t like in the current set-up was – 3rd seed had to be a division winner, but we often had more points but were a 4th seed. Like the realignment during reg. Season, just not the playoffs.

  5. Jon Rudder- Wellsville, Ohio says:

    For the most part, I like what the realignment brings. I like that Washington games against Washington will have an added importance, and that should bring out even more emotion in the rivalry, I feel bad for the Florida teams, it seems like they are getting the short end of the stick. They’ll still have the battle of the sunshine state, but won’t have Washington to contend with.

    The thing that I dislike is the playoff formatting. I like the current format with the top eight teams from the East and West making the playoffs. I feel like with the new format, there could be the potential for a team to be left on the outside looking in and a weaker team making the playoffs in the other conference. Something similar to the Seattle situation last year? Although, they did go on to upset the Saints so should it really be something to worry about?

  6. tom says:


  7. Eric says:

    The 4 divisions are pretty close to the old classic groups so in order to be unique just go back to some of the founders of hockey again.
    Patrick, Adams, etc…….

  8. jeff says:

    Division names need to be more relevent for the current and next generation of fans, not the old geezers……




    Zeigler……hehehehe….just kidding


    something along these lines

  9. Mike says:

    Maybe I’m in the minority, but I do not want the division names to be named after people. It’s too confusing for new fans. Keep it like every other league and make the names geographical in nature.

  10. It’s not bad, to be honest. I think they were able to find a decent balance between keeping existing rivalries and making travel/viewing schedules easier. I like some of the details I read about playing your

  11. espo33 says:

    You honestly think Bobby Clarke and Philly or the Craps will want to have their division named under Mario? No chance. i think the Regions is fine.

    I don’t like the proposal because I think it is stupid that the Pens play Buffalo as many times a year as Ducks or the Kings. That is insane.

    I also don’t like the fact that in the playoffs only 1 team makes it out of your division to play in the Conference Finals. So if our division is loaded we will have a tougher time to get to the Finals or even the playoffs. Under the plan even if the 5th team in the division has more points then the other division they don’t make the playoffs? Are you kidding me? In our division if I were Carolina or the NYI I would have said NO!!! They have no chance for awhile.

    Our division could have the top 4 teams in the Conference, yet the 4th team is stuck playing the best team in the Conference. That is not fair. And don’t tell me how the current system is set up. It should be Division winners with top 2 seeds and every else rated.

    What is going to happen when Phoenix moves? They aren’t staying there. And I think the NYI are going to leave.

    Rochester, NY

  12. espo33 says:

    it is Joe Esposito as full name.

  13. Lester Patrick says:

    Finally the NHL got it right. No more of this nonsense where paper champs like the Caps get to feed on weak sisters & then get knocked out in the first round. Divisional play produced some of the best playoff games ever. Name the conferences Patrick, Adams, Norris & Smythe & the job will be complete.

  14. Lester Patrick says:

    That is the beauty of this set-up. You can plug & play teams. Phoenix moves, put them in a difference conference & away you go. Expand as needed if you want balanced conferences. Very little downside to this arrangement.

  15. Rob van Disseldorp says:

    I like the set-up, just not the play-offs. They should just do 1-8 like it is now, end of story.

    In regards to Phoenix. IF they move to Quebec, they will switch them to the east and put them in the Toronto division and move the Blue Jackets to the Pens division and the east will have 8 teams each instead of the west. Problem solved.

    If they move to Kansas City, you can move Winnipeg in with the other Canadian Teams and Kansas takes that spot.

    Easy fixes.

  16. sabu says says:

    Just great…more mind numbing games against eastern conference scumbags. Their stinking fans dont deserve to see our guys more.

    I think this wouldve been better and it was briefly tossed around: Pens-Buffalo- Toronto-Detroit-Columbus, maybe Chicago too.

    This current alignment…with these extra games against these cheap @ss opponents only means crosby and malkin’s careers will probably be shortened now. Anyone ever notice how Toews and Kane, or Datsyuk and Zetterberg dont take the pounding that 87 and 71 do, playing against these eastern thugs?

    Another thing to chew on…good times dont last forever…and when the fall comes again (which it will) It might take 5-7 years to get back to the playoffs again. weve been through that before

  17. sabu says says:

    This set-up was done to appease the almighty red wings btw…

    names; eastern-central-mountain-pacific

  18. Stan says:

    I don’t think they can do geography with Canadian and Florida teams in the same conference..

  19. Ken says:

    Adams, Patrick, Norris, Smythe. Do something right for once in your life, Gary Bettman.

  20. Chuck says:

    The West Coast Toast, Central Fly-overs, Northeast Snowbirds, and the Mid-Atlantic Metropolitans.

  21. jeff says:

    okay then name our division after Dave Schultz…..really who cares what the division is called……yeah you’re right I’d rather see the Sabres twice a year and only see the Ducks once every other year, you know they have some pretty good players too and the ice cream chains need at least one visit a year from old Bwooice Bourdreau….when Phoenix moves to Quebec City, or more likely the second Toronto team it merely creates and 8 team division in the East and a seven team in division in the West, no one else impacted. The Islanders will not leave the geographic New York Market….they my go to Brooklyn but they ain’t headed to KC, or Seattle, or Vegas….and even if they did same scenario as with Pheobix in reverse….and Sabu actually from the physical standpoint that you bring up, this is better for the Pens as there will be less games against the scum bag eastern thugs….by that I guess you mean the first place Florida Panthers….

  22. Ross Brightwell says:

    This lineup makes a lot of sense. Keep the names geographic. I keep thinking that the university football programs should sit down and do the same thing, keep the schools playing in their region

  23. John Shepherd says:

    I think it is a bad idea. Top eight in a conference gets it right every year. Going back to the way it was will mean the same teams will be in all the time and certain teams will have to have stellar years to make playoffs.
    I think this is a terrible move and needs to be stopped. alignment is needed but not the new playoff system of divisions and top 4 in each go to playoffs. This is a terrible move, they could have just moved Winnipeg to West and moved Columbus or Nashville to East with no change to playoff system as it is. another brilliant Betman move.

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