NHL Realignment: Best Suggestions for New Conference Names

Rick Seto@RickSetoCorrespondent IDecember 7, 2011

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 06:  Boston Bruins legend Bobby Orr is greated by Gregory Campbell #11 during a pregame ceremony on October 6, 2011 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

With the announcement of the NHL Board of Governors' realignment plan Monday that will create a new four-conference setup, there has been a great number of suggestions of the new names, particularly on Twitter.

The plan, whose approval by the NHL Players' Association seems inevitable, simply labels the conferences by the letters A through D.

Despite the great sense of humor displayed in some of the suggestions (the Three Stooges, the names of the Hogwarts houses from the Harry Potter series), the naming of the conferences is a real issue.

There's a good chance that the powers that be are gauging public opinion for the best names; don't be surprised to eventually see a poll on NHL.com of the serious contenders.

Here are some of the more popular suggestions that seem to be gaining traction.


Smythe, Norris, Adams, Patrick

These four names pay homage to the divisional names before the NHL went to using geographic names for the 1993-94 season.

Conference A bears the most resemblance to the Smythe (and today's Pacific), while B is most similar to the Norris (and today's Central). The C is the forerunner to the Adams (today's Northeast), while the D is most like the Patrick (today's Atlantic).

The old-school sentiment behind these four names seems to be one of the two more popular suggestions.

Also getting support from those looking to pay homage to the past would be the names of the two conferences from the 1974-75 season to the '92-'93: the Prince of Wales (or Eastern) and Clarence Campbell (or Western).


Gretzky, Howe, Orr, Lemieux

This set would be the most fun, but also the most controversial.

No other major sports league has named its divisions or conferences after its former stars, but this is a way for the NHL, considered the weakest of the the Big Four in the U.S., to once again be a front-runner on this issue.

The problem with this suggestion is the controversy that would ensue as to which legends should be chosen.

Wayne Gretzky should be the most obvious choice for Conference A.

The choice in Conference B, which has two Original Six teams, is much tougher. Gordie Howe would seem to have done enough to earn the nod over Blackhawk greats like Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull.

Conference C has three Original Six teams, but Montreal and Toronto have more awards and honors named after their greats than Boston.

It says here that Bobby Orr should get the honor; there are many greats, but Orr, more than any other player in league history, revolutionized the game with the way he joined the offense from defense.

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 18:  A close up Wayne Gretzky #99 of the New York Rangers is greeted by Mario Lemieux after playing in his final career game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Madison Square Garden on April 18, 1999 in New York City, New York.  G
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images


The Rangers are the only Original Six team in Conference D, but it's clear who the best player who ever played for one of those seven teams: Mario Lemieux.

Another reason why these four players are deserving is that, despite their accomplishments, none of them have an NHL award named after him. The term "Gordie Howe hat trick" is just that—a term, and an unofficial one at that.

If one wanted to break up the consistency of having four players, Scotty Bowman would be a deserving candidate. He appears to be the most-mentioned non-player, along with Herb Brooks (whose fame was not made in the NHL, but of course with the U.S. Olympic team).

One controversy is that Bowman could associated with the B as a Red Wing (he coached 701 games in Detroit) or with the C as a Canadien (he coached 634 games in Montreal); no doubt the other team's fanbase would be offended.


Western, Central, Northeast, Atlantic

This is the most boring of the popular suggestions, but the one that will offend the least.

Another thing in its favor is that it's the easiest set of names to remember in terms of matching a team with its conference.

This would seem to be one of the top two contenders.


Your Thoughts?

So I've presented three options that would seem to be finalists. But what do you think? My favorite is the one that honors some of hockey's best players.

And of course, please leave your suggestions and thoughts in the comments section.


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