Alternate History 2: NHL & Pro/Rel
|Last week, I looked at what would've happened if the NFL had promotion and relegation. Today, I look at the NHL using the same rules.|
Like the NFL, there's a clear point in which implementing it would've made sense. That's the 1967-68 expansion which saw the size of the league double, from the long-standing six teams to twelve. The league even put all six teams in a different division, and most were much weaker for many years.
Details after the jump.
I tried to use the same number of playoff teams one conference would have. And, I tried to have three teams going up and down each season, though it wasn't possible for the earliest years.
As with the NFL previous post, I picked the playoff teams via the best records (tiebreakers: head to head, then goal differential). Then, of the playoff teams, the ones who went the furthest in real life were recorded as champions and runners up. If two teams went to the same round, then the same tiebreakers were applied.
STANLEY CUP CHANGES
Only four champions ended up being different. They are 1991 Pittsburgh, 1994 NY Rangers, 2006 Carolina, and 2007 Anaheim. Respectively, they were replaced by Boston, New Jersey, Ottawa, and Ottawa.
Here's the full list of different finalists. With pro/rel is on the left, and real life is on the right:
Why did each finalist miss out?
In second division:
1968 Saint Louis
1994 New York Rangers
Didn't qualify for playoffs:
1970 Saint Louis (relegated)
1994 Vancouver (relegated)
YEARS IN EACH DIVISON
The Cleveland Barons were one of the 1967 expansion teams, which folded in 1978 - the last team in the "big four" leagues to do so.
Interesting to see a team like Toronto with 20 ears in the first division, but only 5 playoff appearances. As somebody who doesn't follow hockey too closely, I'm surprised to see Buffalo so high. I guess they're like the Phoenix Suns of the NBA; almost always good but never great (I've done the other leagues already).
MOST CONSECUTIVE YEARS IN D1/D2
The longest lengths of time spent in division one (bold means a current streak):
Boston had that really long playoff streak, and they easily top this category.
The longest lengths of time spent in division two:
Some expansion pains here.
2011 DIVISION ALIGNMENTS
Here's how two divisions would look for the current, almost finished 2010-11 season. The number represents the current consecutive number of years in the division.
For the current season, it looks as though New Jersey, Buffalo, and Calgary will likely be relegated. The three promoted teams would come out of these four: Tampa Bay, Montreal, NY Rangers, and Dallas.
YEAR BY YEAR CHART
Orange = promoted
Blue = relegated
Green = playoffs
This should be a better reflection of reality than the NFL, who didn't play many inter-conference games. But one interesting thing is, for most teams until the more recent expansions, either you made the playoffs or were relegated.