This is one of the best Realignment Proposals I have read. It is logical, equitable and built on two solid metrics for a foundation.
The Zona Proposal is what would probably happen if the NHL was run by a Philosopher King who oversaw the interests of all teams equally and had the interests of the entire League in mind.
The reality, sadly is that the NHL is more of a cartel atmosphere where the various members / teams hold varying levels of influence.
Nonetheless, the Zona proposal is an excellent and thought provoking realigment. Definitely give it a read over
The best part about Zona's approach is that he truly starts fresh.
Most realignment proposals start with the Jets as a domino drop. Everyone knows the Jets must come West, so then X team goes East and well, maybe we should really move 2-3 teams East and now we need to move more teams West and etc. It is all a haphazard approach.
Zona forgets about the Jets and just approaches the issue holistically with his two metrics of distance in schedule and income disparity. The results are surprisingly solid as he goes outside of the box with two Conferences that are not geographically based. The motivation, once again, is to provide equitable travel to all teams equally.
|New Conference #1 (Wales)|
|Carolina Hurricanes||Buffalo Sabres||Anaheim Ducks|
|Florida Panthers||Chicago Blackhawks||Colorado Avalanche|
|Philadelphia Flyers||Detroit Red Wings||Los Angeles Kings|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||Ottawa Senators||Phoenix Coyotes|
|Washington Capitals||Toronto Maple Leafs||San Jose Sharks|
|New Conference #2 (Campbell)|
|Boston Bruins||Columbus Blue Jackets||Calgary Flames|
|Montreal Canadiens||Dallas Stars||Edmonton Oilers|
|New Jersey Devils||Nashville Predators||Minnesota Wild|
|New York Islanders||Pittsburgh Penguins||Vancouver Canucks|
|New York Rangers||St. Louis Blues||Winnipeg Jets|
The only team at first blush that struck me as having issues may be the Wild as the lone American team in the Western Division in Conference #2. I'd solve that with a little speculation on the future of the Yotes and how they are likely a relocation target for the future.
Now that I have endorsed Zona's realignment I'll critique it.
(1) More relocations are likely on the horizon. The reason why Bob Mackenzie's latest tweet on the simple swap of the Red Wings for the Jets in the SE division made sense for realigment next year is that the NHL likely does not want to do a grand realignment until the dust has settled on current relocations.
NHL history has also shown that relocations happen in bunches and in a tight timeline of a few years. This makes perfect sense because you do not want to have a League that is not stable and in constant flux.
This should not be too much of a threat to Zona's realignment structure though because no matter where teams are moved to, the same calculations would be applied to adjust the divisions.