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NHL realignment scenarios: Naming conferences and divisions

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Back in the day, the NHL's conferences and divisions were named after people and/or trophies. The Eastern Conference was once the Prince of Wales Conference, for instance. It was named after the trophy awarded to the Eastern Conference champions - which is the same trophy that's still awarded now.

In 1993, they did away with that, and went to a more logical regional naming system. It doesn't always fit, of course - how can you say that the Dallas Stars should logically be a part of the Pacific Division? - but it fits, for the most part.

However, it wasn't always like that, the naming conferences for people thing. From 1967 to 1974, the NHL used a regional naming system. And previous to 1967 - during the Original Six era - they didn't need divisions or conferences, so they didn't have any.

And yet, there are a large number of hockey fans that yearn to go back to "the good old days" of when conferences and divisions were named after people. And now, with talk about future NHL realignment due to the Atlanta Thrashers moving to Winnipeg, the ghosts of remembrance have come floating back. People are dragging out and dusting off the old naming structure of calling conferences and divisions by people's names as they're speculating about realignment possibilities.

It's nostalgic, certainly, but also confusing. Personally, I could never really figure out which team was in which conference or division that way. I literally always had to dig out a map to figure it out. So for me, at least, it was a relief when they went back to the regional naming scheme.

And, frankly, I see that as a step backwards. Why use the old names again? Yes, it harkens back to childhood days when hockey heroes were larger than life, but that's about it. All it's going to do is confuse fans - particularly those who follow teams that were added to the NHL after 1993, and more recent converts.

But, if you're determined to go there, then I have a compromise: Ditch the old names; no one really remembers who those guys were anymore, anyways. Yes, it's historical, but only NHL historians are really into that sort of thing. Instead, start fresh. This is a new era in the NHL, so let's use some new heroes' names.

I suggest players from the 1967 expansion onwards. How about guys like Bobby Hull, Gordie Howe, and Bobby Orr for divisions? And instead of naming the Eastern Conference the "Prince of Wales", maybe just shorten it to "Prince" or "Wales"? Though, I'd change the Clarence Campbell Conference name completely, since "Campbell" invokes Colin Campbell and his reign of incompetency, at this point.

Who are some other players that might be worthy of having a division or conference named after them?