News broke last night that the NHL Board of Governors had passed the new realignment plan for next season by a 26-4 vote. However, Pierre LeBrun of ESPN tweeted earlier today one of the teams he feels voted against it was the New York Rangers:
I believe the Rangers were one of the 4 teams that voted No vs. this re-alignment proposal. I think they were content with 6-div format
Join me after the jump to find out why I feel this is the case.
Under the new plan, teams would be placed into four, geographically configured “conferences.” The Rangers, already in the tough Atlantic Division, would be adding Carolina and Washington to the new conference. Is it any secret why they would be opposed to that?
- Look at the competition they would be dealing with.
In order to reign supreme, they would have to routinely best the Penguins, Flyers, and now the Capitals. Sure, the rivalries are kept intact – and re-established with the Capitals back in the fold – but you can’t afford to have any bad seasons otherwise you’ll be far down in the pecking order.
- Travel would see a big increase.
The adoption of this format is to ensure every team plays a home and home. This means the Rangers will be traveling to Western Canada and the West Coast to play in different time zones. Not sure how many teams would be FOR an idea like that. I wouldn’t be surprised if the other three teams to reject the proposal were the Hurricanes, Panthers, and Lightning, who are all located in the southern part of the U.S. but are now lumped in with their northern brethren. Tampa Bay/Toronto games will take on a whole new meaning.
- The loss of regular season conference games.
The Rangers would face teams like the Bruins, Canadiens, and Maple Leafs in exchange to play the Blue Jackets, Coyotes and Stars more. The NHL’s desire to see every team’s fan base have a chance to watch all the stars of the NHL is understood. But, from a NHL purist at heart, there isn’t going to be as much “juice” in those games as there would be against their conference counter parts.
The new alignment has its pros and cons – the biggest pro being the retro feel of having four division…err “conferences” again – and surprising the NHL would want to change its landscape drastically. But, one thing to note here: the NHLPA has yet to agree to the new alignment plan. Would they reject the proposal – with CBA negotiation looming – in order to gain some leverage? Unlikely, but you never know.
Feel free to leave your comments below!