With the addition of Seattle to the NHL fold, one of the more unfortunate circumstances is that the burgeoning geographic rivalry between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Arizona Coyotes is going to be cut off. It was either going to be that, or Calgary and Edmonton was going to be split up, and that wasn’t going to happen, so now Arizona, on top of all it’s other problems, is going to be plopped in a division with Minnesota and Chicago.
But the good news is, the Coyotes are consistently rumored to be a team that might relocate thanks to their persistent operating losses. Most investigations of potential sites look at the viability of those potential homes, but not this one. We are assuming viability of 4 particular cities (Portland, Kansas City, Quebec and Hartford) and deliberating what cities would make realignment easiest.
First, lets look at my terrible rendition of the divisions, as they presently lie.
And then, let’s agree that the alignment below makes a lot more sense.
Let’s look at the first city, Portland. We are talking about he Oregon one, here, so that would set up a natural geographic rivalry with Seattle and maybe even Vancouver. Somewhat orphaned, it would likely be easier to tell Vegas to move to the Central division. Still, Las Vegas is still much more culturally tied to Los Angeles than the Midwest, or even Phoenix.
Hartford might encourage the NHL to lean more heavily into the present alignment structure, punting the Blue Jackets to the Central and the Penguins to the Atlantic, with Hartford and the Bruins joining the Metropolitan division.
Adding Quebec might rectify the cluster that is the alignment of the two Eastern divisions. Adding a team that is even further north in Canada makes the idea of pitting Canadian provinces against rivals from Florida even less defensible. Taking the second map, adding Quebec instead of Phoenix, the best solution would be to then add the Devils to the southeastern division, while shifting Columbus (or Detroit, but probably Columbus for…. reasons) into the Coyotes’ old spot in the Central.
The best move for all concerned parties, though, would be a move to Kansas City. Not only could all the divisions be preserved as they are, but a move to KC would help with Colorado and Dallas, who are currently further from any other team than other NHL franchise. Kansas City would immediately become the closest rival to both teams.
If the Coyotes do some day move, they should find a home in Kansas City, but if they don’t, Quebec should get a long look too.