The New NHL Reorganization: How Screwed Is Your Team, Really?

How does the new, proposed reorganization of the NHL into ‘Conferences’ of 16 and 14 really screw over your favorite team?

To answer that question, it is best to look at it in relation to the 2005-6 through 2011-12 seasons’ final standings. Let’s start with this chart:


Here are a couple of notes for you about what you see here:

  1. Where points are listed, you have a team that made the playoffs that season.
  2. Where points are in BOLD GREEN text, you have a team listed that did not make the playoffs that season in either Conference. In other words, they are a new entry under the new system.
  3. Where points are in BOLD RED text, you have a team listed that made the playoffs that season in one of the Conferences but would not under the new rules.
  4. With Detroit in the Atlantic-Central Conference, you have a measure of displacement that accounts for just about every team that otherwise made the playoffs who would not under the new Playoff proposal.
  5. While Detroit and San Jose have made the Playoffs every year since the last Lockout, the new system would add Nashville to that illustrious group who otherwise didn’t make it in the 2008-9 season.
  6. Moved to the Atlantic Division, Columbus would have lost its only appearance in 2008-9. Florida, the New York Islanders and Winnipeg (Atlanta) still would have made their single appearance since the last Lockout.
  7. The New York Rangers would have paid the biggest price by losing out on a Playoff seed in both the 2008-9 and 2010-11 seasons, producing a three-year post-season drought on Pennsylvania Avenue.
  8. And sorry, Toronto fans. This system would not have benefitted your team in any way as far as making the Playoffs.
  9. Two Divisions have a four-team plus-or-minus Playoff difference (Central and Midwest) and two have a three-team differential (Atlantic and Pacific). In order, the greatest to least number of teams by Division who would have made the Playoffs based on previous seasons’ play are the Pacific (31), Atlantic (30), Central (26) and Midwest (25).

And finally, we know in any season all it takes is to make the Playoffs and anything can happen. That said, here are the opening round matchups for the ‘Eastern Conference’ each year had the new proposal been in effect:


As you can see, Detroit and Montreal and Philadelphia and Pittsburgh would have faced each other in the 1st Round three times each. Detroit also would have had four total ‘Original Six’ openers with the three above and one additional against Boston. And finally, if the highest seed each year won their first round matchup every time, Detroit would have been the only ‘Eastern’ team to progress to the second round every year since the previous Lockout.

And in the ‘Western’ Conference, we ould have had the following, opening matchups:


From the above we only see three instances where one pairing has repeated itself. And as far as 1st round home teams progressing to the second round every year based on the higher point total, San Jose would have gone onward to the 2nd Round six times while Nashville would have done so five times,

How the final battle to get to the finals would have finished is anyone’s guess.  But while the Stanley Cup finalists would still have come from the list of teams above who earned enough points to make the Playoffs, we would not have enjoyed the back-to-back Detroit and Pittsburgh duels as both would have been in the same ‘Conference’ in the 2007-8 and 2008-9 seasons. Might we have seen Dallas or Chicago respectively those seasons in the Stanley Cup Finals against one of the two of them? We can only speculate….



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