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Devils’ Kovalchuk not a fan of proposed realignment

Feb 28, 2013, 6:38 PM EDT

Ilya Kovalchuk AP

Count Ilya Kovalchuk among the NHLPA members not thrilled with the NHL’s latest realignment proposal.

“For us I don’t think it makes any sense to change it,” Kovalchuk told the New Jersey Star-Ledger. “We have a great division with good travel for all the teams in our division. A lot of rivalry games.”

This past week has seen a lot of developments on new-look conferences and proposed playoff formats (see related posts below.)

Earlier this morning, TSN’s Darren Dreger said some players weren’t thrilled with the prospect of imbalanced conferences — the East would have 16 teams while the West would have 14 — and the idea of wildcard playoff spots.

Kovalchuk re-iterated that feeling.

“Overall, with 16 teams on our side and 14 teams over there, I don’t think that’s how it should be,” he said. “And then those wild cards and all that. I don’t think it makes too much sense.

“Hockey should stay hockey. It doesn’t have to be football.”


Report: NHL introduces new realignment plan

Dreger: 50-50 chance players support realignment proposal

Daly: NHL will address how expansion/relocation impacts realignment if it happens

More proposed realignment changes: Two conferences, four divisions

  1. chill1184 - Feb 28, 2013 at 6:45 PM

    Just move Winnipeg to the West and flip a coin for either Detroit or Columbus to move to the East.

    • phipfwe76 - Feb 28, 2013 at 7:34 PM

      I like that idea, I’d also throw Nashville’s name in the hat, as they’d fit the best in that division.

      • chanceoffleury1 - Feb 28, 2013 at 11:53 PM

        Nashville is in the central time zone, Detroit and Columbus are both eastern time zone cities. That’s why there is so much drama with where Detroit and Columbus should play.

  2. vanindeed - Feb 28, 2013 at 7:37 PM

    It doesn’t make any sense to change it seeing as I can take a bus to most away games and still be home in time the highlights.

  3. mclovinhockey - Feb 28, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    The other 3 conferences get it worse than the Atlantic as well. This makes every team have to travel so far for divisional games.

    • macjacmccoy - Feb 28, 2013 at 11:00 PM

      The only division that has it worse then the Atlantic is the other Eastern division . The 2 western divisions each have 1 less team they have to compete with to make the playoffs. So I dont know why your complaining about. Id rather see the Flyers travel a little more then miss the playoffs because of how jam packed the East is now with really good teams while 2 or 3 lesser western teams make the playoffs based solely off of time zone.

  4. blomfeld - Feb 28, 2013 at 8:16 PM


    Just a few months ago this guy was spouting off with hurtful threats about staying away permanently in the “gangster” KHL, causing untold stress and upset for both his employer and many loyal fans. Now today he has the nerve to start blabbing about what the NHL “should or shouldn’t” do in going forward? What a complete joke! The bottom line is that this idiot needs to “zip it” real good. And if he can’t manage that himself, then Bettman needs to bring in some specialists who will “assist” him in zipping it. Personally I would never have allowed turncoats like Kovalchuk to ever return to the NHL after the lockout was resolved. That was a serious mistake in my opinion, even though it’s understandable given Bettman’s kind and forgiving nature. Nonetheless, at the minimum there should now be a “gag order” on anyone who uttered threats of defection during the lockout, including the likes of Kovalchuk, Ovechkin, Bryzgalov, etc. Just one word of dissent from these people and they’re on the next Aeroflot flight back to Moscow, simple as that. I have no quarrel with someone like Kovalchuk the player, as his accomplishments are well known by all. However I do take issue with this complete lack of humility and unbridled narcissism.

    This is what we expect to hear from those who uttered threats of defection last fall:

  5. therealjr - Feb 28, 2013 at 8:31 PM

    Brilliant thinking, why consider anyone else besides yourself? But I guess when you are a fat cat you don’t have to be considerate of others. Your salary is a percentage of revenue, who cares if whatever is left is enough for a majority of teams to make a healthy profit. Coming this summer: Wall Street 3: Red Square.

  6. kingsforever - Feb 28, 2013 at 8:52 PM

    Look I don’t like the guy but he’s right. The MLB admitted their mistake of having uneven divisions and then fixed it. Why would the NHL go to uneven conferences?

    • chanceoffleury1 - Mar 1, 2013 at 12:04 AM

      If they are dead-set on this 4 division system, I think for right now they should just switch Columbus and Winnipeg and then do the realignment when they are also ready to immediately introduce 2 new franchises. It is not at all fair and none of the players in the east will ratify it if the divisions are uneven. They would be inheriting a historic playoff contender which makes it harder for them to make the playoffs and the west will both have less teams, and then also lose one of their most historic playoff regulars making it easier for them to get a playoff spot. And right now it looks like the 2 most logical expansions would be Seattle and Quebec City. Is Quebec gonna compete in the west?

  7. sportsfan69 - Feb 28, 2013 at 10:14 PM

    This proposed alignment is just plain stupid. How in the world is this fair and equatable for both conferences? Keep the current system, switch Columbus and Winnipeg from their current conferences and call it a day. Who’s the butt hole (idiot) that came up with 16 / 14 alignment? Wait until Seattle and Quebec is added, then switch to a four division format. What the hell is the urgency to have a four division format and uneven Conference format? Who’s the moron proposing this STUPID idea????

    • blomfeld - Mar 1, 2013 at 12:11 AM


      and rest assured friends, they’ll be “dealt with” in due course ! … hello comrade, it’s really nice to hear from you … take it easy and we’ll be speaking further … comrade Blomfeld …

      • sportsfan69 - Mar 1, 2013 at 8:03 AM

        Heir Blomfled,

        Guten tag! OK, it just doesn’t make any sense. MLB is fixed this year. Great to hear from you comrade once again. Where were you, in Argentina hiding out? LOL!

  8. rgledz - Mar 1, 2013 at 1:06 AM

    It’s pretty clear that the Eastern conference teams think the world revolves around them. The Wild are in the central time zone and are in the freaking Pacific division! Uneven conferences don’t make sense, but neither does a Minnesota team playing in a division with Vancouver. You can’t exactly road trip that. It makes complete sense for the rest of the League. Having Minnesota, Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas and Winnipeg in the same conference revitalizes the Norris division rivalries and is just good for the game.

    • comeonnowguys - Mar 1, 2013 at 6:35 AM

      You’re missing a team in that Norris Division :)

      • basedrum777 - Mar 3, 2013 at 4:06 PM

        And what happens when they add teams or move PHX? Its not smart to realign when the team list isn’t stable yet….

  9. kevindunn21 - Mar 1, 2013 at 8:46 AM

    These morons don’t understand that the answer is right in front of their face. Move Columbus to the Southeast, Winnipeg to Northwest, Dallas to Central and Colorado to Pacific. Change the matrix to the following:

    -5 games vs. 4 divisional opponents (20 games)
    -3 games vs. 10 intraconference opponents (Central teams will have to face a maximum of 8 road games vs. Pacific division opponents in a given year) (30 games)
    -Home and Home with 15 interconference teams (30 games)

  10. clefty1 - Mar 1, 2013 at 10:28 AM

    I guess it is easy to say what Kovalchuck said seeing as you can take bus rides to some of your games and your team for the most part NEVER leaves the eastern time zone, making it fair would have teams from the east do some travel west. Maybe Kovalchuck should try playing for the Wings or Jackets or better yet head back home to Russia. The realignment makes sense seeing as the Wings and Jackets have to make multiple trips to the western US and Canada and the rest of the teams in the eastern time zone do not. Having games starting at 10 or 10 30 for Wings or Jackets fans is not exactly fair either plus the games like last nights (San Jose) ended after 1 am Detroit time, lets see how fans of other teams in the east would enjoy that especially during the playoffs. The Wings have appeased the NHL long enough by staying in the west and they can renew rivalries with Toronto and Montreal plus the proposed division would have 4 of the original 6 teams in it and the Rangers would be in the same conference. The proposed plan would also help out Minnesota, Dallas and Winnipeg with a bit less travel and I am sure there are fans out west that would like to see some teams from the east come to town.

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