SUNRISE, Fla. | An overwhelming majority of NHL governors voted in favor of radical realignment, which passed with a tally of 26-4. It sure seems like Washington Capitals president Dick Patrick was on board with the plan, judging by his comments and those from other members of the team’s brass.
“We’re pleased with the NHL’s realignment proposition. The new layout gives fans the opportunity to see each team in the league and should rekindle some of the great rivalries,” Patrick said in a email transmitted through a Caps spokesman. “This new format will allow Caps fans to witness some of the best matchups in the league on a regular basis, and it will bring past rivals to the Verizon Center more frequently. From the feedback we have received, Caps fans are excited about the realignment.”
A night earlier, after the announcement was made that the league would go to four conferences and the Caps with the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers, Devils, Islanders and Hurricanes, general manager George McPhee was happy as well.
“We think it’s great for our fans that we’re back in that division again. Because it’s been historically a great division and our fans have always loved those rivalries,” McPhee said. “It’s a great realignment in every regard. We’re back in the Patrick Division, the travel is great and our fans see everybody. Everybody else in the league seems to be happy as well.”
Generally, realignment is being well-received around the league, though teams like the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning will take a hit with increased travel to Canada.
In a blog titled, “Going Old School,” Caps owner Ted Leonsis weighed in.
“Like the old days – The “Patrick” division days. … Short and easier travel schedules. Lots of fan interest. Tough to make the playoffs. Tough road once you do qualify for the playoffs,” he wrote. Change is good. … This will be good and positive for the game. Many of you asked for it - you got it. The two great tragedies in life – ‘Not getting what you want and getting what you want.’ ”
The Caps did get what they wanted.