I have a couple thoughts on the realignment that I want to put there. Basically, the Jackets won. It is not a complete and total victory, as there was no way the perfect ideal situation for the Blue Jackets was a possibility. Based on the direction the league was going, this is the best case scenario for the team. Considering it took the Board of Governors an hour to finalize this set up, a four conference league was in the bag. Based on the possible team groupings for a four conference set up, this is definitely the best situation.
First, contrary to the belief of twitter the Blue Jackets end up in the easiest conference. Yes, they are in an eight team conference, but that isn't what matters. What matters is the top of those conferences. The only other possible conference in this format would have been the NYR-NYI-PIT-PHI-WSH-CAR conference. If another team was added to the TOR-OTT-MTL-BOS-BUF-FLA-TBL division, it would have been Detroit. And if both Florida teams were left out of that division, I would guess that Chicago would have been the team to join Detroit there, based on their Norris division history. So that leaves the Central grouping they are currently in, or the east coast division. That division features Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Washington, all of whom should be perennial playoff teams for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, the Rangers have a very good team that should probably consistently lock up that fourth playoff spot. Those are four very tough teams for the Jackets to overcome on a yearly basis. In contrast, their new conference features only two perennial powerhouses, in Detroit and Chicago. The rest of the teams are either in a current swoon, or are having a bit of a break out year. I like the CBJ's chances of knocking out four of Dallas, Winnipeg, Minnesota, St. Louis and Nashville, than of beating out one of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington or the Rangers.
Second point: this set up is very good for the teams travel Preds' blog On the Forecheck had a very good breakdown of each teams intra-conference travel. The Jackets have the tenth lowest travel distance in the NHL. Twenty other teams will travel more over the course of the year for their in-conference games. Given Columbus' central location, I would guess they end up near the top five in the lowest amount of travel over a full 82 game season. That is such a huge win for a team that has been killed by travel so far in its history.
NOTE: Sorry to all for my absence lately, its been an incredibly hectic time for me professionally, but I expect to be back contributing semi-regularly next week.