I don't know about you, but I'm sick to death of all the talk of proposed re-alignment in the NHL. Not because I don't think it necessary, but because the twiddling of thumbs by the league and its players is going to lead to another work stoppage in 2012. As it stands now there are 3 teams who, logically need re-alignment Detroit, Minnesota, and paramount of the three, Winnipeg, who is currently in a division with teams in sunny south Florida. Now the players yesterday rejected a proposed re-alignment plan from the league because the conferences would be lop-sided, and there'd be less chance for teams to make the playoffs and compete for the cup.
This solution is really very simple. Although some fans might not like it (but if they'd go to games in the cities we wouldn't be talking about this.) Contraction. Teams that perennially lose money should be folded. This is an easy fix. You fold Phoenix, Columbus, Nashville, Florida, Tampa, and the New york Islanders. Thats 3 teams per conference. Then you hold a dispersal draft for the players left standing when the dust settles. Then you draw a vertical line down the centre of a map of North America and the teams on either side of the line are in the appropriate conferences. You then balance a schedule so that every team plays eachother home at home once, and the remaining games are played within conference. Also with the folding of teams you can eliminate the rats in the league like Brad Marchand, Sean Avery, Matt Cooke etc. Due to the availability of talented players left standing when their teams are folded the need for these rats will be minimal, if there's need for them at all. So now I've fixed 2 problems. I've fixed the conferences, and I've made sure that every arena will get to see Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin at least once. The problem with my solution is that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will never fold the teams I've proposed because he's too stubborn to admit he made a mistake going into markets that should never have been allowed to have NHL hockey to begin with (Except for the Islanders. That shit is all their owner's fault.). As for the playoffs, you rank the top 16 teams based on pts. in the standings (do away with divisions and conferences) and keep a similar format to the way it is now. 1 vs 16, 2 vs 15, 3 vs 14, 4 vs 13, etc. Home ice advantage is determined by who has more points in the standings. Neat, tidy, logical.