In trying to explain the realignment option he wanted to see implemented, an NHL GM grabbed the notebook out of my hand and drew four boxes. Two boxes with a seven above them and two with an eight above them. Don't think of them as divisions or conferences, he said, but instead as regions. Regions that would then have region playoffs to help contain travel early in the postseason.
A few days ago in Toronto, a small group of hockey writers gathered outside the doors of the NHL GM meetings and recreated a similar scene, with one reporter's notepad the focal point as the group debated where each NHL team would fit in a four-division NHL realignment. If it weren't for three or four teams, we would have had the thing solved.
"It's one of those things where there's not a perfect answer for it," said Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman. "If there was, we'd probably go do that. There's going to be debate either way."
The debate continues now, but don't expect many options to be debated when the NHL Board of Governors finally gather in Pebble Beach, Calif. The growing consensus is that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will have a proposal all but finalized when it comes time for a vote in early December. The notion that a bunch of teams will be presenting their ideas at the meeting isn't an accurate one.
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