Hockey talk: New realignment plan may hurt Caps


Photo by Jim McIsaac

In a Tuesday memo sent to the front offices of all 30 National Hockey League teams, NHL heads proposed a new realignment plan that would reduce the number of divisions from the current six to four and establish a new playoff system, drastically different from the conference system that has been in place.

The Caps, like every other NHL franchise, will see some interesting changes to their schedule. According to the new plan, the Caps will be placed into the “Atlantic Division” of the Eastern Conference, a setting similar to the old Patrick Division that saw its demise at the terminus of the 1992-1993 season.

Alongside the Caps will be several former Patrick Division foes, including the Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils, and New York Rangers, to name a few.

While the Caps’ juxtaposition in the proposed Division would be great from a fan’s point of view due to the constant rivalry games, it may prove difficult for the team in the long run.

In the current Southeast Division home of the Caps, the boys have been dominant. In six seasons since 1999, the Caps have been Division leaders.

The Southeast Division, however, has consistently been one of the weakest divisions in the NHL since its introduction in 1998. Only two Stanley Cups have been handed to teams from the Southeast, and, with the exception of the Caps, Southeast teams tend to rank in the bottom half of the NHL.

With the new realignment plan, the top four teams in each division will make it to the playoffs, equating to eight teams from each conference. This new playoff scheme pits the Caps against historically competitive teams, such as the Rangers, that they would prefer not to play against.

More details to come as more realignment plans are released.