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Aaargh! The Blue Jackets hope to beat Red Wings to the East

File this one under, “And this is another reason why the Red Wings, the Western Conference’s anchor tenant, will never be moved to the Eastern Conference, even though Jimmy Devellano voted to lock out the players very specifically because he stated that the NHL insisted to both Mike Ilitch and Devellano himself that the Wings would be first up for any sort of move to the Eastern Conference should the NHL consider realignment or expansion.”

The Columbus Dispatch’s Michael Arace reports that one of the two teams that could beat the Wings to the East plans on bringing up the issue with the NHL, and those teams, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators, have apparently been told that Jimmy D’s assertion is bunk and/or another empty lockout promise meant to go unfulfilled:

“We have an annual review with the league, and that’s where it came up,” [Columbus Blue Jackets president Mike] Priest said. “I asked the question: What would the procedure be in the event that a team from the West needs to move to the East?”

It’s all hypothetical at this point, Priest noted. Nothing will happen for at least a couple of seasons, if it ever happens. Two hurdles are in the way. First, a club from the East (Atlanta? Florida?) would need to relocate to a city in the West. The likely move of Phoenix back to Winnipeg does not help the Blue Jackets, nor would an Eastern club relocating to Quebec City. Second, the Blue Jackets would need to curry favor with the NHL’s Board of Governors, which would have to approve any team’s move across conferences. That might be a bigger hurdle.

Since the Blue Jackets joined the NHL, it has been whispered that the first club to move to the East would be Detroit, that the Red Wings’ desire to leave the Western Conference predates the Blue Jackets’ existence. No such agreement exists, a league source told The Dispatch this week. Priest said he’s been told as much, too.

“I have personally never been told that anybody has a leg up over anybody else,” Priest said. “If there’s a team that needs to move to the East, every team would be looked at before any decision is made.”

Continued, and one gets the feeling that the Blue Jackets’ proximity to Buffalo and Pittsburgh, as well as the Predators’ geographic ties to the Southeast Division would trump Detroit’s status as “first in line.”

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Tuba Guy's avatar

This is total junk.  Team seniority should be the first thing considered.

Posted by Tuba Guy from Royal Oak, MI on 04/24/11 at 10:08 AM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

First, one must presume that the blue jackets will still exist in two years, so that they can petition the league to move to the East??

Second, since the city of Atlanta is located West of Detroit ( yes West!,  look up the latitude/longitude and you will be surprised ) they should the team in the Western Conference.

Posted by Down River Dan on 04/24/11 at 10:18 AM ET

Jeff  OKWingnut's avatar

Its not April Fools Day.

When was the last time that CBJ beat the Wings at anything that mattered?

Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 04/24/11 at 11:04 AM ET

Baroque's avatar

Well, to be fair, Columbus HAS clearly shown that they can’t compete that well in the Western conference. Maybe they would have better luck in the East and at least be more competitive.

Agreed on Atlanta. I think most people assume (if they think about the geography) that the East coast is a lot straighter north to south than it is, but there is a strong slope from Maine to Florida. I still think that the teams should be scattered without regard for geography, as with the National and American Leagues, or just skip conferences and make four broad divisions, or something.

(Although I wonder if the non-existence of the Detroit priority is similar to the non-existence of the Toronto power to veto on its own any team in the Hamilton market - not official, but understood by the suits nonetheless.)

Posted by Baroque from Michigan on 04/24/11 at 11:05 AM ET

DetroitHockey's avatar

If Atlanta were to move to Winnipeg (or somewhere else out west), there’s a lot of talk about the Predators fitting nicely into the open Southeast Division slot.  It’s pretty clear that actual longitude doesn’t matter, rather proximity to other divisional teams.

Nashville fits into the open slot and Detroit doesn’t.  If Detroit jumped conferences, it’d be to the Northeast or Atlantic Division,  Either presents a problem, as you end up pulling an Atlantic team into the Southeast (replacing it with a Northeast team if that’s where the Wings end up).  Do you split up the NYC-area teams or the Pennsylvania teams, cause one of those groups gets broken in this scenario.  And that scenario applies for Columbus, too.

So you can piss off the Wings (which the league has been doing for years) and the Jackets (who don’t have any pull anyway) by bringing Nashville over, or you can mangle the Eastern Conference (probably pissing off a bunch of people).

Posted by DetroitHockey on 04/24/11 at 11:41 AM ET

MarkK's avatar

If it’s approved the by Board of Governers…. I would see Western reps wanting Detroit to go and to keep Columbus to beat up on, while Eastern reps would not want the perennial powerhouse brought over to the weaker east, and would rather have the BJs to smack around.

Posted by MarkK from Maryland on 04/24/11 at 01:51 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

I don’t see the Wings ever not being in the same conference as the Hawks.  And since the Wings are such a huge draw wherever they travel, I don’t see them being moved to the east where there are already plenty of teams who draw fans to the arena.

Do I believe the NHL would keep any promise made to Jimmy D?  No.

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 04/24/11 at 02:32 PM ET

Gumby's avatar

I totally agree with MsRedWinger.  There is no team in the league that has the marketing appeal in the western cities the way that the Red Wing do.  Not only do the home teams fans want to see their teams beat Detroit, but the Wings have a large following in those cities as well.  Call it a hunch, but as vehement that the Blackhawks would insist that the Wings remain in their conference, I can’t see NBC wanting the Red Wings to move to the Eastern Conference either.

Posted by Gumby from the city with more ruins than Rome on 04/24/11 at 02:44 PM ET


Columbus is right that both of their natural geographic rivals are in another conference, but, imo, they’re not the only team with this problem. Look at Washington. Their historic (and current) rivals are both in the Atlantic, but they play six games per year against the likes of Florida. Some of Toronto’s are in the Western Conference. And you can’t tell me that Nashville and Carolina don’t make sense playing 6 times per year.

All the divisions should be reorganized to allow for better rivalries.

Posted by steviesteve on 04/24/11 at 06:56 PM ET

Hippy Dave's avatar

Columbus just wants to get out from under our shadow.

Posted by Hippy Dave from Somewhere West of Detroit on 04/24/11 at 06:59 PM ET

Norskirama's avatar

I proposed this last year as a caller to NHL Live—North and South conferences.  Then everyone has to make the coast to coast trips.

Posted by Norskirama from Lincoln, Nebraska on 04/24/11 at 07:52 PM ET


I proposed this last year as a caller to NHL Live—North and South conferences.  Then everyone has to make the coast to coast trips.
Posted by Norskirama from Lincoln, Nebraska on 04/24/11 at 05:52 PM ET

Exactly. Making Northern and Southern Conferences is no more or less arbitrary than Eastern and Western. All of the Canadian teams could be put in the same division. And travel time and expense would be equalized among all of the franchises.

Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from La La Land on 04/25/11 at 02:50 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.

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