The Ontario Hockey League will almost certainly visit divisional realignment for the 2014 – 2015 season. With the move from Brampton to North Bay and issues in Erie seemingly over and rumors of a move to Hamilton quashed the need for realignment isn’t as dire but still necessary.
Commissioner David Branch made it clear in the pre-season media conference that expansion is not in the plans so a minor tweaking may be all that’s needed. However, we take a look at major restructuring in both realignment and playoff format.
Bobby Orr Conference
Niagara Ice Dogs
Wayne Gretzky Conference
North Bay Battalion
Owen Sound Attack
Sault St Marie Greyhounds
Under this scenario, we propose an unbalanced schedule with a focus on division and conference play. This proposal would see a team play each team within their division 7 times. They would play each team in the other division in their conference 4 times and play the other conference teams twice in a season in a home and home for a total of 68 games.
With it comes a change in the playoff format. With an emphasis on divisional play, under this scenario the top four teams from each division would qualify for the playoffs. The first place team would play the fourth place team while second meets third. The winners of those series would then meet in the division championships. The division winners would meet in the conference championship and the winners for the OHL Championship.
While it makes the most sense geographically, it also strengthens current rivalries with the schedule and divisional playoffs.