Oh, eastern bias. You're about to get more exaggerated in the NHL. Well, that is if realignment winds up passing with the NHLPA's blessing. The main concern of the union is a mix of both travel worries and the imbalanced conferences that will give Eastern teams a better chance at making the playoffs, and as it turns out, that imbalance will also be a bit of an economic boon for the teams along the Eastern Seaboard.
We'll let SB Nation's Battle of California blog explain things from here.
In the envisioned 16-team west, each team would make the playoffs in theory 50% of the time, whereas in a 14-team east, each team improves to 57% likelihood -- over time this imbalance will put more dollars and thus more spending power in the eastern conference, as there are fewer teams to distribute to.
Per my napkin-math example, each western team under realignment would have a new expected playoff payout of $5,156,250 ($82.5M divided by 16 teams), while each eastern team would have an expected payout of $5,892,857 ($82.5M divided by 14 teams). Each eastern team annually would have a better expected payout than each western team by $736,607, near the cost of a minimum-wage player.
It's not huge, but that sort of imbalance can add up, so I think if the NHL does move to an imbalanced-conference realignment, it really should include a revenue sharing program with it.
Western interests in the NHL often claim there's an Eastern bias, and well, this would be a pretty straight-forward example of such claims. That's not to say the NHL is purposefully doing this to benefit the East or anything, but well, it is a lack of balance in a meaningful way.
Battle of California feels that a revenue sharing solution should be in order, and that's a solution that makes a lot of sense.