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It is something we all have probably thought about at one time or another, and if not then you must have at least thought about something you would change about the NHL. Whether you are in favour of having no red-line or you are against a shootout, you probably have an opinion on what the “Perfect” NHL would look like. What teams would you include? How would the playoffs work? How many games would each team play? In the following article I will present to you my completely opinionated, totally bias, unrealistic view on what the perfect NHL would look like.


League would be cut from 30 teams down to 24 teams:

I’m tired of seeing watered down talent going toe to toe with more watered down talent. There aren’t enough great players to have 30 teams; therefore I am getting rid of 8 franchises that I feel are unhealthy. I am also adding two “new” teams: Winnipeg and Quebec City. Here is how the divisions breakdown.


Eastern Conference


Richard Division

Lemieux Division

Boston Bruins

Detroit Red Wings

Montreal Canadiens

Ottawa Senators

Quebec Nordiques

Toronto Maple Leafs

Buffalo Sabres

New Jersey Devils

New York Islanders

New York Rangers

Philadelphia Flyers

Pittsburgh Penguins



Western Conference


Gretzky Division

Orr Division

Calgary Flames

Colorado Avalanche

Edmonton Oilers

Minnesota Wild

Winnipeg Jets

Vancouver Canucks

Chicago Blackhawks

Columbus Blue Jackets

Dallas Stars

Los Angeles Kings

St. Louis Blues

San Jose Sharks



Each team would play the opponents in their respective divisions 8 times, opponents in the other division in their conference 4 times and opponents in the opposite conference once for a total of 76 games. Here is my reasoning behind the divisional alignment:

Richard Division:
I don’t know about you, but personally the Richard division makes my mouth water. The Habs would play the Nordiques, Bruins and Leafs 24 times a year, that is 24 games of pure rivalry that would otherwise be spent watching the Habs play teams such as the Thrashers, Panthers and Hurricanes . All of these cities are passionate about their hockey teams and these divisional matchups would be a pleasure to watch.

Lemieux Division:

Certainly some of you will question the inclusion of the Pittsburgh Penguins. It is my personal opinion that all the Penguins need is a new arena to flourish. I’m not ready to give up on this once successful franchise. The only change in this division from the real NHL would be the inclusion of the Sabres.

Gretzky Division:
The Jets, and the Winnipeg whiteout, makes its return to the NHL in another division filled with potential rivals. Basically the Northwest of nowadays with the addition of the Jets, this is another division filled with hockey-mad cities.

Orr Division:
Maybe the weakest division in terms of overall fan-support, but still without any real weak markets, something all too common in the present day NHL. Chicago actually has worse attendance numbers than a few teams that I rejected, but they are an original six market and the crowds have to pickup eventually right?


In-Game Changes


  • Shootouts – A controversial move for sure, but I hate ending games in ties and let’s face it, it doesn’t get much more exciting than this. A 10 minute OT session would give the teams a chance to decide it before resorting to the shootout.
  • 4 on 4– A major change once again that will have the purists up in arms. 4 on 4 would create more scoring chances and more exciting hockey and that is enough for me.
  • No Red line – Similar to a Hailmary pass in Football, these long passes would keep defensemen on their toes and fans on the edge of their seats.
  • No touch icing – I can’t believe it, but I’m going to have to agree with Don Cherry on this one. Players are getting needlessly injured and it can be stopped.
  • Tag-up offside rule – The current offside rule slows the game down needlessly, there’s no real reason not to make the switch.  


  • No Shootouts – Playoff overtimes might just be the most exciting thing in sports.
  • Top 6 qualify – The top 6 teams from each conference qualify for the playoffs. Each division winner receives a bye into the second round
  • Format – The first round will be a best of 3 series so that the division winners are not sitting around and waiting for a winner for two long. For the remaining 3 rounds it will be in the traditional best of 7 format.

Financial aspect

·        Salary Cap – The main topic of interest in the current lockout, in my NHL the salary cap would be 40 million dollars, enough to allow all teams to compete financially and not so small that teams can’t spend a little money.   

·        Arbitration – As TSN suggested, allow the owners to take the players to arbitration if they don’t feel the player should be paid as high as he is being paid.

·        Revenue Sharing – To avoid situations like Major League Baseball where only a few teams have money, revenue sharing would allow small market teams like the Winnipegs and Pittsburghs to compete with the Detroits and New Yorks of the league.


The NHL is going to have a lot of work to do to rebuild an already diminishing fanbase in the United States, as well as convince Canadian fans to return to the game they love (I don’t see the latter being that being too much of a problem). Only a couple of franchises that Gary Bettman has introduced in recent years have actually worked out, and that expansion happened much too quickly. It also happened in markets that most could have told you wouldn’t work. My dream NHL has, in my opinion, gotten rid of the markets that don’t care about hockey and added a couple of markets that should have never lost their teams in the first place. The new rules that I have added will help to increase the entertainment level and will hopefully create a newfound interest in the game around the world. Obviously the CBA would have to be a bit more complicated than what I underlined, but those few points would help to ensure parity, much like what the NFL has. Hockey is Canada‘s sport, that will never change, but the NHL needs to find a way to market the game to the U.S. to truly succeed. Right now hockey is a niche sport, it’s popular in a select few markets but overall it is a distant fourth as far as the major sports go, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Having said all this, at this point in the lockout, I would accept any version of the NHL, even the flawed one we left behind.



Do you have any comments on my perfect NHL or would you like to voice your opinion on your version of the perfect NHL? Fill the form below (See link).