Here's a graphical followup on the issue of travel schedules in the NHL. Over at CalgaryPuck.com, forum users took an image from Sportsline.com and provided some additional insight into divisional setup. First, the overall view:
Secondly, there were splits added for division and conference splits:
Now, if we add in expansion teams for Kansas City and Las Vegas, what might make sense from a geographic perspective? I took the images and mocked up some lines of my own. Let's try eight divisions with four teams each:
The tricky thing here is what do about Detroit and/or Columbus. Both would seem to be good candidates to move to the Eastern Conference, but you know the Western Conference teams like having the Red Wings come to town to guarantee good crowds. This option has Nashville moving to the East to join up with more natural rivals in Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Florida. But what if we tossed the Blue Jackets over to the East instead?
This might appear to be a pretty workable solution, actually. For those who wonder why Columbus should head east rather than Detroit, I'd note that in this picture Pittsburgh should actually be in the southwest corner of Pennsylvania, and is actually pretty close to Columbus (163 miles, equal to their distance from Detroit). As much as it would stink for the Red Wings to be the only Eastern time zone team in the West, it's gotta be somebody.
Whatever happens in the next few years, I think we can all agree that more interconference games need to occur, so the big stars in this league get into as many different cities as possible.