What NHL Realignment Means For The Flyers

5 Dec

The Flyers already have a pretty good rivalry with the Washington Capitals, but now the NHL has made it official and just thrown them in the same division. As part of the NHL’s radical realignment program, the Flyers will add the Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes as divisional opponents starting next season. The league announced a four-Conference alignment format that was authorized Commissioner Gary Bettman, pending input from the National Hockey League Players’ Association.

Although the new proposal doesn’t use the terms “Eastern” or “Western” the teams that are geographically in the west will be divided up into two eight-team divisions with the east comprised of two seven-team divisions. Under this format, every team will have a home-and-home with non-conference teams.

In seven-team conferences, the divisional foes will play six times, like they do now. In the eight-team conferences, teams would play each other 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. That will alternate every year.

The playoffs will take the top four seeds in each division where the No. 1 seed will play the No. 4 seed, the No. 2 seed will play the No. 3 seed. The four conference champions will play in the third round, but it’s unclear if they will be re-seeded or if it will be determined by geographical location. The remaining teams obviously play in the Stanley Cup Final.

Below is the new look…

Conference A Conference B Conference C Conference D
Anaheim Ducks Chicago Blackhawks Boston Bruins Carolina Hurricanes
Calgary Flames Columbus Blue Jackets Buffalo Sabres New Jersey Devils
Colorado Avalanche Dallas Stars Florida Panthers New York Islanders
Edmonton Oilers Detroit Red Wings Montreal Canadiens New York Rangers
Los Angeles Kings Minnesota Wild Ottawa Senators Philadelphia Flyers
Phoenix Coyotes Nashville Predators Tampa Bay Lightning Pittsburgh Penguins
San Jose Sharks St. Louis Blues Toronto Maple Leafs Washington Capitals
Vancouver Canucks Winnipeg Jets

According to TSN, the voting was 26-4, but the league only needed 20 teams to sign off on it. If the new division for the Flyers looks familiar, it should. Aside from the addition of the Hurricanes, it is identical to the Patrick Division from 1982–1993 when the Colorado Rockies moved to East Rutherford and became the Devils.

What this means for the Flyers isn’t much change from the division standpoint. Playing every team at least once on the road means a little more travel, which was a concern of a lot of teams that are currently in the Eastern Conference according to multiple reports. However, apparently none of this matters to Peter Laviolette.

“Here’s what’s going to happen for me,” said Laviolette after practice on Monday. “Somebody is eventually going to come down and put a piece of paper on my desk and say this is your division, and I’m going to say, ‘OK, that’s great.’ That’s how it’s going to work. Something is going to come down and it’ll get sorted out and we’ll figure it out.”

He did offer, however, that he is a fan of playing divisional opponents six times, not eight as it had been a few years ago.

“Eight gets to be a little bit much, I think,” said Laviolette. “That’s a lot of games, the same teams, it’s nice to play the Bruins or if you go out west it’s nice to play Detroit. I think when you put eight games in your division, that’s when you maybe see Detroit once a year. The traffic’s tough, but it’s also nice to get a mix in there.”

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