Friday, November 4, 2011

NHL Realignment

The NHL is considering changing its playoff structure (see here and here). The second article lays out two big advantages for TV. First a little background. Here is a listing of teams by time zone:

Eastern: 16

Central: 6

Mountain: 4*

Pacific: 4

* I'm assuming that Phoenix is in Mountain, even though it actually would be the equivalent of Pacific Time for the beginning and end of the season. Arizona doesn't go on Daylight savings.

So an Eastern Time team has to play in the Western Conference because more than half the teams are in the Eastern Time zone. That team is not decided in the current plan; it will either be Columbus or Detroit.

The new plan has goes from 6 divisions of 5 to 4 divisions of 7 or 8. Also the schedule would change from 24 intra-division games, 40 inter-division, intra-conference games and 18 inter-conference games to 36 intra-division games and then two games against each other team regardless of conference. Whichever Eastern-Time team gets stuck in the Western Conference would definitely have an improved schedule.

Old schedule:

Eastern: 9

Central: 16

Mountain: 8

Pacific: 8

New schedule:

Eastern: 15

Central: 18

Mountain: 4

Pacific: 4

The Red Wings would trade 8 Mountain or Pacific games for 6 additional Eastern games and 2 additional Central games.

However, the second supposed advantage is to help the Pacific teams have fewer Eastern trips. I don't see that helping under the proposed schedule:

Old schedule:

Eastern: 11

Central: 12

Mountain: 9

Pacific: 9

New schedule:

Eastern: 16

Central: 6

Mountain: ~11 (would range from 10-12)

Pacific: ~8 (would range from 7-9, the total across Mountain and Pacific would by 19)

So the Pacific teams end up having one fewer trip to the Eastern and Central, but five more of them will be further east.

{Offline H/T to my brother}.

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