Realignment talk - The Hockey News on Sports Illustrated

Realignment talk

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Hi there. Thanks for all your questions. As always, there are more of them than I can address in this space, so be sure to check out The Hockey News magazine and THN Radio to see if I answered your question there.

Yo, Adam! Do you think the NHL’s new division/conference format is good for every team?

Drew Fearon, Oakville, Ont.

Yo, Drew! Depends what you mean by “good.” I think there are elements of the new plan that will benefit all teams – specifically, the fact they’ll all play in every NHL market at least once every season. That’s what I’ve been advocating for years. As well, the post-season format – wherein teams will face off against their fellow divisional playoff teams for the first two rounds – also seems like a can’t miss proposition that’ll build rivalries like the old days of the Norris/Patrick/Smythe/Adams divisions.

As for the stuff I don’t like – let’s just say some of the groupings don’t make much sense. In particular, the two Florida teams being grouped in with the current Northeast division franchises seems more of a lifeline for the Lightning and Panthers ticket sales offices than a genuine fit. But there really isn’t a perfect plan – other than my other idea of eliminating divisions altogether and going with two conferences only. That’s still better than the plan the league came up with, in my humble estimation.

Hey Adam! I'm sure you've been swarmed with questions about the new realignment, but here’s my question: What will happen to the Prince of Wales Trophy and the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl, now that there are four conferences?

Julian Poldrugovac, Toronto

Hey Julian! Great question. The league has yet to decide the full structure of playoff formatting, so there’s no concrete plan as of now to mothball the Wales and Campbell trophies. If the eventual plan is to have the two winners of the Western-based conferences face off in a semifinal (and the same in the East, obviously), there would still be a place for them to be handed out. We’ll have to wait for the NHL to complete the plan before we know the trophies' fate.

Dear Adam, over the years there have been discussions about changing the size of the nets or making the goalkeeper pads smaller to increase scoring. Though that has not happened, do you think making the goal posts smaller would increase scoring?

Ryan Baddeley, Sydney, Australia

Dear Ryan,

No, not to any significant degree. You might get the occasional ricochet that directs into the net, but that would be more a product of the angle the puck comes in on than the posts themselves. And really, if we’re reaching for a solution like this one, doesn’t that tell you the real solution is bigger nets? Players have grown, but the game hasn’t grown around them. That fact, and not the posts, is the primary issue.

Hello sir. How long do you think it will take for the pin to get pulled on Joe Sacco's tenure in Colorado? And who do you see as the right guy for this group of players? Will Patrick Roy be the frontrunner in the front office's eyes? Thanks Adam.

Mathew Boutin, Saskatoon, Sask.

Hello sir. I’ve made it pretty clear the past few months that I didn’t see the Avs as a playoff team, so I think Colorado GM Greg Sherman could change coaches any moment and it wouldn’t magically turn them into a contender. Yes, they’re only four points out of a playoff spot, but they’re still in 13th in the West and I still don’t see them putting together a huge win streak to atone for their poor play of late.

You never know when a coaching move could be made, but I wouldn’t bet the house on it being Roy when Sacco does get pink-slipped. Roy has it pretty cushy as owner-coach-GM of the Quebec League’s Quebec Remparts and wouldn’t leave that to take over the kind of non-playoff team the Avs appear to be. Perhaps down the road that’ll change, but for now, I think he stays put.

Hey Adam - is it clear yet that Ilya Bryzgalov was the beneficiary of Dave Tippett's tight defensive scheme in front of him? If the Flyers had to do it over again, would they go after Tomas Vokoun or give Bobrovsky the keys and keep Brian Boucher as insurance?

Chaz Galupi, Fort Worth, Tx.

Hey Chaz,

Bryzgalov’s adjustment to life away from Phoenix hasn’t been ideal, but I’d say it’s premature to count him out just yet. His numbers (2.85 goals-against average, .898 save percentage) leave much to be desired, but in two of his past four games – all wins, by the way – he’s posted save percentages of .947 and .926, demonstrating he’s not all hype and past achievement.

After the way the Flyers bowed out of last year’s playoffs, there was no chance the team would go with the same netminding tandem this season. And I doubt Vokoun would be the answer, either. The Flyers have a number of new components to work with this year – and that, as much as anything, could be part of the reason he hasn’t been consistently good.

Hi Adam. I think one of the worst things about the salary cap is how much parity it creates in the league. It means we're unlikely to ever see another dynasty like the ‘70s Habs or ‘80s Oilers. What if teams only had a portion of the salaries for players they drafted count towards the cap? If the Pens only had half of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal and Marc-Andre Fleury’s salaries count towards the cap we may see another dynasty, which would be cool. Also, that way you are rewarding teams for drafting well as opposed to forcing them to dismantle their teams once their young stars go out of the entry level contract. What do you think?

Jacob Carson, St. John's, Nfld.

Hi Jacob,

I’m the opposite of you in this regard, because I think some degree of parity is absolutely necessary to maintain the integrity of the league. Really, do you want a situation like the one in Major League Baseball or the NBA, where small-market teams have virtually no shot at competing with the bright lights and bigger dollars of major metropolises? I sure don’t.

Sure, it would be nice to, as you say, give teams that draft well a chance to keep their core together for longer. But to undermine the entire cap system just to please one or two franchises who’ve done well? No.

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