Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Salvation in Realignment??

The picture above is what everyone is raving about today. During the Board of Governor's meeting, 26 of the 30 teams approved of the idea, with only NHLPA agreement needed for ratification. The jist is that it's four different "conferences" (let's just call them divisions....or "confervision")-- two with eight, two with seven-- and then the top four will go to the playoffs, then move on from there.

While it's great news for people who love divisional playoffs (me especially), it could be interesting for some teams when it comes to this whole thing saving some franchises. Columbus and Phoenix do get a bit of a reprieve, but now it just seems that the one "confervision" that will be interesting to see if two of them will survive in the next five/ten years.

When it comes to the old Northeast Division plus the Florida teams will be the most interesting set to look at-- especially with the future of the Florida Panthers. However, it would prime them to move to Quebec City, leaving Tampa in the lurch hoping for another realignment. You can imagine that the Lightning and Panthers were two of the four teams to not approve of this, and rightfully so-- the closest team in there "confervision" to each outside of the state of Florida is Boston (1,237 miles from Miami, 1,183 from Tampa); which is.....quite the haul for the home-and-home scheduling that seems to be formatted.

The Bolts are on good footing with their new ownership group restructuring themselves perfectly from the Oren Koules/Len Barrie bedlam that happened, so I don't think they'll have issues with the travel costs. The Panthers on the other hand, I feel a little sketchy about. Sure, they've been doing well this year, but still 21st in attendance with just over 15,000 people going to their home games, which is right around their average. There's been questions about their stability for a while, even with them being bought in 2009, but it's not as widely reported as other teams like the Coyotes and Atlanta Thrashers.

Sure, there's some teams that this realignment helps, which is great-- that means hopefully less issues of which team is in peril this week and snap moves in the summer like we saw this past summer. Yet, you're always going to have the questions-- particularly when you have teams more than 1,000 miles from their nearest competition outside of their own state.

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