Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 03/03/13 at 04:34 AM ET
The Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning are among the biggest "losers" of the NHL's realignment proposal as the Florida teams may end up stranded in what is essentially a "Northeast Division"--perhaps because the Atlantic and/or Southeast Divisions' owners have been among Gary Bettman's biggest supporters over the past two lockouts--and the Tampa Bay Times' Damian Cristodero spelled out the reasons why Steve Yzerman's team might not be thrilled with the proposal given the price they pay in exchange for sold-out buildings full of Original Six teams' fans:
[T]the Lightning would be weary travelers during the season. Except for Florida, its shortest trip would be 984 miles to Detroit. And don't discount the hassles of crossing into and out of Canada and dealing with border control.
Compare that to the proposed Atlantic Division of the Islanders, Rangers, Devils, Flyers, Penguins, Capitals, Hurricanes and Blue Jackets. Raleigh, N.C., to Columbus, Ohio? 362 miles. Uniondale, N.Y., where the Islanders play, to Manhattan to face the Rangers? 30 miles.
In other words, that division would have easy postgame travel — even by car, in some cases — more time at home and need fewer days of rest. That would mean more days available for practice, the lack of which coach Guy Boucher has bemoaned this season.
"The travel, crossing the boarder and flying (past) Carolina and Washington to play teams in our division, those are things we don't like about it for our organization," Yzerman said.
The league has said it would try to mitigate Tampa Bay's travel as much as possible. But we also know the Lightning last year voted against a similar realignment proposal because of travel hardships.
Continued with some obvious Red Wings-Bolts talk...
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