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Snider Predicts Total Realignment For NHL


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The question was pretty simple.

Would the Flyers support any kind of NHL realignment that would see them lose the Pittsburgh Penguins to another division?

“No,” came the reply from one Flyers source. “And the chance of it happening are slim and none.”

The Penguins feel the same way.

There’s a lot of debate right now about what is going to happen at the NHL Board of Governors meeting next month in Florida.

Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman reported recently that there is growing support for a total realignment of the NHL based on geography.

It would see rivalries disrupted, among them, Flyers-Penguins because Pittsburgh would be shifted to one of four new divisions.

All of this fuss is to accommodate where to put Winnipeg next season and how to appease the Detroit Red Wings who want to: A. move back to the Eastern Conference; or B. remain in the west, but with a more favorable travel schedule outside the eastern time zone.

Friedman broke down the four divisions, which would see Washington, Carolina, Florida and Tampa Bay from the Southeast all join the Flyers in a group that also included the Rangers, Devils and Islanders.

What the proposal does not account for, some say, is the possibility that a year or two from now, the NHL could be facing two more franchise shifts with Phoenix and Florida.

League sources say the debate there is whether it makes more sense to wait until there is some finality on those franchises’ futures before doing a full, 30-team re-alignment.

Our source says virtually all 15 clubs in the east favor keeping things as they are with their own clubs.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman needs 20 votes from his BOG to make this realignment happen, and right now, even if all 15 teams in the west support such a move, there is a feeling he doesn’t have five votes from the east.

“Gary Bettman never goes into a BOG meeting without having something already set where he knows he has some support,” a source said. “Now whether he has support for this or something else in mind, we don’t know.

“He likely has a backup plan though. But again, there is a feeling that this may not be the right time for full realignment because of the situation in Phoenix and Florida.”

Simply put, I don’t like any realignment that loses a great rivalry like the one the Flyers have with the Penguins.

But I also understand that’s a minor consideration in the broader view.

“Both teams react to this rivalry,” said Max Talbot, who has seen the rivalry from both the Flyers' and Penguins' side.

“They need to think about rivalries when they make up divisions. I doubt the Flyers will create a rivalry with the Florida Panthers equal to that of the Penguins. It’s hard to re-create rivalries. It takes years to do that. It would be sad if they killed this rivalry.”

The Flyers and Penguins would still meet twice a year, but not as often as they meet now, which is six times.

Yet there’s a lot of agreement that teams out west have issues that need to be resolved. For instance, Dallas plays every game outside the state of Texas in another time zone and is in the Pacific Division.

Detroit and Columbus play many games outside their time zone, as well. In short, the issues (travel distances, late games, etc.) among clubs in the west far outweigh things like a Flyers-Penguins rivalry.

Jaromir Jagr admitted he didn’t know much about this plan. His reaction may surprise you.

“On one side, it’s kind of sad,” Jagr said. “On the other, they probably want to save not only money but for some teams, the traveling part. They want to make it best for teams not traveling. Sad? Probably.

“It’s not going to affect me much. Too bad they didn’t do it this year. I would save a lot of boos when I go to Pittsburgh.”

Jagr was laughing when he said that.

E-mail Tim Panaccio at tpanotch@comcast.net

And then this article by Tim P today.

TORONTO -- Flyers chairman Ed Snider believes the NHL needs total realignment and predicts it will happen.

Snider, speaking at the red carpet ceremony during the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremonies on Monday night, said emphatically that the Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins will remain in the same grouping of teams regardless of how many divisions/conferences there are.

“There has to be,” Snider replied when asked where he stands on total realignment. “But our traditional rivalries will always be with us no matter how it is realigned. I’m pretty confident of that.”

Multiple sources told CSNPhilly.com earlier this month that the Eastern Conference clubs want traditional rivalries to remain intact and that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman did not have the 20 votes necessary to approve a realignment plan that would see Pittsburgh and the Flyers split into different conferences (see blog post).

Sources said here there are numerous proposals that will be presented at the BOG.

The league’s Board of Governors will meet in December in Pebble Beach, Calif., to discuss the issue.

“We’ll be together without question, if under a four conference set-up,” Snider predicted of the Flyers-Penguins. “We will have all our traditional rivals and some others in a four-conference setup.”

Asked whether he feels the four-conference setup will win out, Snider hedged.

“I don’t think I should be commenting on that,” he said, adding while laughing, “I don’t need any fines.”

E-mail Tim Panaccio at tpanotch@comcast.net

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A four conference setup? Do we really need four conferences?

I kind of liked the idea of realigning some teams and going back to the two division conferences. One of the things they should do is bring back the traditional conference/division names.

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A four conference setup? Do we really need four conferences?

I kind of liked the idea of realigning some teams and going back to the two division conferences. One of the things they should do is bring back the traditional conference/division names.

If they scrap divisions all together and go with four conferences, it has the same effect as two conferences with two divisions - four entities.

I would be most concerned how they will screw up the playoffs. Does each entity get an auto-bid as champions and then wildcard from there? Does each entity only put their top two teams in the playoffs? It could be interesting with a bracket, but why change what isn't broken. I love the playoffs as they currently exist. In fact, my only complaint centers on the fact that OTL contributes to the overall points standings. At best, that should be a tie breaker down the food chain.

Why don't they just make this easy: Winnipeg to the Western Northwest, Nashville to the Eastern Southeast, and Minnesota to the Western Central. Travel problem solved mostly (Dallas and Colorado are still kind of screwed), but the playoffs and majority of the league remain largely unaffected negatively.

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Why don't they just make this easy: Winnipeg to the Western Northwest, Nashville to the Eastern Southeast, and Minnesota to the Western Central. Travel problem solved mostly (Dallas and Colorado are still kind of screwed), but the playoffs and majority of the league remain largely unaffected negatively.

I don't think they are going to go for the easy route (even though it makes sense). I've been reading that there are too many teams in the west wanting into the east so they can generate more revenue. The thing is if they fragment the eastern conference teams too much the league may end up losing more rather than gaining.

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I don't think they are going to go for the easy route (even though it makes sense). I've been reading that there are too many teams in the west wanting into the east so they can generate more revenue. The thing is if they fragment the eastern conference teams too much the league may end up losing more rather than gaining.

They can cry all they want, the math doesn't lie. It's impossible. Sell out your own buildings and make money that way.

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