Before I get started, I just want to say that this isn't intended to be a bash-the-southern-teams thread, nor is it intended to be a here's-what-I-think-the-best-alignment-would-be-thread, where everyone offers their own suggestions and the thread just gets bogged down with pages and pages of the most asinine alignments that the brains of HF can concoct. I also hope that there's enough meat to this topic in a business context that it doesn't get bumped to the main board where the two things that I don't want to happen with this thread will most certainly happen. ** Quite often, the southern teams are villianized for losing money, taking the place of a market that would appreciate the team, being a drain on the league's resources, and are generally perceived to be a very distant fourth of the Big Four sports in these markets. This villianization even goes so far as openly cheering for the failure and relocation of these teams (by those who have lost their teams and know how awful it feels, no less), which is quite possibly the most unsportsmanlike behaviour a fan can participate in. Moreover, these teams are generally poor draws on the road, with the Thrashers, Predators, and Ducks being the only "Sunbelt teams" (using the term loosely - I know it's a charged term, so don't jump on me over what is and isn't a Sunbelt team) cracking the top 20 in road attendance in 2009-10 The separation of northern and southern teams, and the mentality that this split causes, benefits nobody. The owners lose money because they can't fill their barn when these teams come to town, and the fans get at each others' throats over a perceived 'right to have a hockey team'. A lot of this, I think, has to do with the southern teams being placed in their own divisions, away from teams with more history (yes, I know that Washington and Los Angeles have been around for 35-40 years, and that the Ducks/Hurricanes/Lightning/Stars have all won cups). I think the most obvious example is Los Angeles - nobody questions the legitimacy of an NHL team in Los Angeles because they spent much of the 70s in the same division as Montreal and Detroit, and most of the 80s in the same division as the western Canadian teams. Meanwhile, even some of the most successful teams (on and off the ice) still stuggle to be seen as "legitimate hockey markets". That said, could re-alignment so that northern and southern teams share divisions and compete more directly for playoff spots - and face each other in the playoffs more often - help to mitigate the mentality of traditionalists? Would these teams draw better on the road, instead of being brushed off as "a game not worth going to"? Spinning this in the other direction - some will point out that the Senators and Oilers share the bottom ten in terms of road attendance with many of the sunbelt teams. Could realignment that makes divisional rivals out of the cities that are historically poor draws for these teams help increase their visibility/profile on the road, as opposed to being seen as a forgettable game against a forgettable opponent?