Another missed opportunity by the NHL

July 24, 2013, by
The NHL has a long history, it should have used it.

The NHL has a long history, it should have used it.

Throughout the summer (a brief one, thanks to the abbreviated 2012-13 season) we’ll discuss aspects of the league that invoke discussion as well as continue to discuss everything New York Rangers. First up, missed opportunities.

Once again the National Hockey League has missed a trick. When the league pushed through realignment they had an ideal opportunity to bring the league’s storied past into play. Just like how the league renamed the Lester Pearson trophy after Ted Lindsay, the league should have renamed the newly formed divisions after former great players and legendary hockey league innovators.

Hockey had an opportunity to respect its tradition and pay homage to those that made the game what it is. It had an opportunity to move beyond mere geographical titles, and the commercial priorities of individual clubs with their TD Gardens and HP Pavilions. The league had an opportunity to use history as a selling point to the national hockey league and to provide some meaning to divisions.

Wouldn’t the Atlantic division sound better as the Howe-Orr division, or the Beliveau-Richard division? Or the Metropolitan division have more meaning as the Messier-Clarke division? What sounds better – the central division or the McInnis-Hull division? What names get used is not the critical aspect here but it’s the mere fact that the NHL has once again missed out on an opportunity to better promote the league and to give the league more depth and personality.

In a league that is full of clichéd interviews and bland personalities and as a league that has to struggle for airtime against dominant sports such as the NFL (and their murdering athletes), major league baseball and their drug abusing, unsympathetic stars, the NHL needs to use every possible angle they may have to their advantage. Paying homage to stars of yesteryear and to an era where there was genuine authenticity, giving the league more meaning seems like a logical, easy step. Shame the league doesn’t see it that way.

Categories : Around the League


  1. Matt J says:

    I disagree. I think using players names would be a mistake and potentially alienating. I don’t know about you but if the Rangers won the division, I wouldn’t be to happy to see a Bobby Clarke banner in the rafters. I wanted to see the return of the old division names (such as Patrick, Adams, etc.) but if the league did want to update those, I would have been fine with naming the divisions after famous coaches. Even though I cannot stand the Islanders, being in the Arbour division wouldn’t be all that bad.

  2. Nick says:

    I agree, and I would have been happy with the Gretzky, Orr, Howe and Lemieux divisions. Widely viewed as the best 4 players in the history of the game.

    And honestly who cares if we had a Lemieux division banner….the point is we have it, and not the Pens

    • kevshockey says:

      While NHL isn’t exactly the smartest league in the world, if they went this route with great player names. Lemieux would need to be left out.

      Lemieux was an amazing player, but his place as an active owner in the league takes him out of the discussion for a division to be named after him. Lemieux division name + 1 bad call for the Pens would basically have all fans wearing the foil hats and calling conspiracy.

      Active players, owners, coaches, and GMs shouldn’t be in the discussion for a division name. When Jagr retires from the NHL in 3 years after completing his rounds in the new Metropolitan division we can name it after him.

  3. Dave says:

    I’m not a big fan of using player names. Division names need to help draw the casual fan, so I’m ok with geographic location.

    However, Metropolitan is the worst division name in existence.

    • Centerman21 says:

      Philly is in the Mets division now! LOL! I hate that name. I like the old Smyth, Patrick, Adams, and Norris divisions. How can the Wings be in the Atlantic division? They aren’t any where near the Atlantic. The Norris division would make more sense. No?

  4. Centerman21 says:

    I totally agree with the fact the NHL should have used this as a chance to bring it’s long standing history back to the forefront. However, I think they should’ve brought back the old Patrick, Norris, Smyth, and Adams divisions. This IMO would have helped the league with realignment. Some teams are mixed in divisions not based on geography. Which makes naming them on geography a paradox! They could have gone with names like Chris suggested not going back as far as the older names the NHL used to use but why not bring the NHL’s deep history as a marketing tool. The NHL goes back as far as any of the other 3 major sports if not further. I do agree the league blew it tho. These names are horrific. The Metropolitan division is a joke. Why not make it the Patrick division? That’s something long standing hockey fans could have lived with. The Atlantic isn’t bad but the Red Wings are nowhere near the Atlantic. Why not call it the Norris division and do away with geographical positioning

  5. Jared says:

    I think the problem with the NHL is that it lacks the ability to draw new fans. The names that they have now, not only let new fans get a general idea of who is in the division but also make them feel they are a part of the sport and arent alienated for not knowing who Bobby Clarke or someone else is.

    These name also provide a forum for bragging rights. When a team wins the Metropolitan division, they and the fans can say they’re the kings of the Metropolitan. You cant say we’re the King of Howe-Orr.

  6. wwpd says:

    Dave Chris Justin Kevin divisions

    in the Suit and Silk Tie conferences

  7. asfjr says:

    If division names are that important to the NHL’s marketing efforts, they have a much larger problem to deal with.

  8. cv19 says:

    The name of our division means nothing. Why waste your space writing about it? Let’s just win the Stanley Cup!

    • Dave says:

      Next time we want to write about something that isn’t directly about the Rangers, we will email you and get your approval. Is that ok with you?

  9. cv19 says:

    Okay Dave, I’ll play. Who was the last casual fan you know of who was drawn to the NHL because of the names of our divisions? You’re kidding right?
    If you want to have a healthy blog you shouldn’t be so acerbic.