1) Looks like Big Gary got his way last night. We're told that there was "significant arm twisting" by the commissioner in the last 48 hours to convince several owners who were resistant to the large scale changes outlined and released last night. As regular readers know, we did a post yesterday where we believed from talking with our usual good sources that the league was going to sequentially realign the next 2 seasons instead of one big change as we saw occur. So why the change?
2) I believe the biggest enticements were Bettmans commitments to all owners that he can get an even better deal i the next CBA than even the NBA owners got recently. He told the board that he believes an owners favoured 54-46% split as opposed to the current 43-57 split in which the players get the upper hand, thus reducing payrolls roughly 25% across the board. Additionally an extra round of playoffs is likely in the cards as well. The new format will have the top 4 teams in each "conference" play in the first 2 rounds. Opening up a possibility that a team from another conference might fail to make the playoffs even though they have more points than a team that qualified. To ease that problem and to increase revenue/fan interest the league will create a "preliminary round" where the top 2 teams that missed the playoff cut would square off against eachother.
3) The Phoenix issue will solve itself under this plan. (Unless they move to Quebec.) A move to another city west of the Mississippi is easily solved with this format. It reduces travel for the Redwings so their owner is happy. It continues the regionalization (unless you live in Florida) and the associated rivalries. No one will ever be happy with any plan. Already teams are griping with the potential playoff format, and until the Preliminary round is instituted we'll be sure to hear crying from a bubble team or two. The other bit of intrigue left to be determined are the names of these 4 new conferences. We restate our desire to bring back the old names instead of the geographic names that Bettman brought to the NHL. The Patrick, Norris, Smythe, Adams Conferences sound so much better, and give the league a way to differentiate themselves from the bland NBA/NFL names.