NHL Realignment: Flyers And Penguins Team Up To Try And Ice League's Four Division Proposition

The Flyers and Penguins are working together for once in an effort to ice the NHL realignment, one that would potentially end their rivalry by sending Pittsburgh to a new division.

You know what they say on South Park: "Blame Canada."

After the Atlanta Thrashers skated past the border and became the Winnipeg Jets, the National Hockey League (NHL) proposed a league realignment that would downsize the divisions from six to four.

So why all the resistance?

Well, for starters, it kicks the Pittsburgh Penguins out of the East and into a new division alongside the Columbus Blue Jackets, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators.

In the process, it also sends their rivalry with the Philadelphia Flyers to the penalty box.

That's because the Orange & Black would stay behind and trade sticks with the New York Rangers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils, along with new additions that include the Washington Capitals, Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.

But Flyers President and Board of Governors member Peter Luukko (via DelcoTimes.com) isn't ready to say goodbye to the rivalry just yet:

"We are in 100 percent agreement with the Pittsburgh Penguins. We are in close communication with them on this subject. This is a big rivalry that means a lot not only to us as a franchise, but to our fans, their fans, and the entire state of Pennsylvania."

In addition, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review analyzes the Penguins stance on divisional realignment:

Penguins CEO David Morehouse is working tirelessly behind the scenes to assure the continuation of the region's longstanding NHL rivalry ... In addition to gaining the ear of considerably influential high-ranking NHL officials, such as commissioner Gary Bettman and COO John Collins, the Penguins' Morehouse, with his political background, is well educated in the art of bringing people over to his side of the aisle.

Realigning the divisions is not possible without the approval of 20 of the 30 members of the league’s Board of Governors, including Luukko. Based on his comments, I think it's safe to predict what his vote will be.

Separating one of Pennsylvania's great sports rivalries could be a short term loss with a long term gain; however, there are playoff ramifications that extend beyond these two "Keystone State" hockey teams.

Stay tuned.

For more on the NHL realignment click here. To get all the latest news and notes for the Flyers and Penguins be sure to hit up Broad Street Hockey and PensBurgh hockey blogs by clicking here and here.

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