The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/31/11 at 11:05 PM ET
Continuing today’s talk about the Red Wings possibly moving to the Eastern Conference, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside offer differing opinions as to whether it would even be possible for the Red Wings to leave the West for the 2012-2013 season, a year’s worth of Detroit, the Nashville Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets vying for support among the NHL’s Board of Governors included:
LeBrun: The obvious realignment to me is this: Detroit goes East, Winnipeg into the Northwest, Colorado into the Pacific, Dallas into the Central.
But a league source told me recently that the reason realignment is being delayed a year is that the league wants to properly canvass all its governors and get everyone’s feedback on what is always a contentious issue. The Red Wings desperately want to move east. They’re tired of playing most of their games outside of their time zone, and it’s brutal for TV ratings when you’re asking your fans to stay up late to watch most of your road games. Having said that, many Western Conference governors will oppose losing Detroit because of the Wings’ gate power. So then, what to do? I think the league will examine all kinds of possibilities, perhaps use this opportunity to revamp the entire division and conference setup, not just plug in one team for another. There will be lots of talk and ideas leaked in the next 12 months.
Burnside: I think a simple swap of Detroit for Atlanta/Winnipeg is short-sighted and would be a significant blow to the two-conference setup that has, I think, worked pretty well. You could lose the divisions, as far as I am concerned, especially given that they have no bearing on the playoff seeding. You play an unbalanced schedule that includes six games against each division rival, then throw that out the window come playoff time and seed one through eight based on points.
But here’s the thing that many people are forgetting as we imagine what the new NHL will look like post-Atlanta: A year from now, we might be having this exact discussion about the Phoenix Coyotes. All the City of Glendale did was buy another year of uncertainty in the desert by anteing up another $25 million of taxpayer money to cover the team’s losses this season. If the city can’t nail down an owner by midway through the 2011-12 season, the NHL will be looking for a new home for the Coyotes. Could it be Retreat North Part Deux with a new team in Quebec? Doubtful unless the arena plans there get fast-tracked. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly raised the idea of Seattle recently, saying there are potential owners interested there. The bottom line is that Winnipeg might not be the last of the upheavals the league will be confronting.
Ah, yes, the Coyotes…the discussion continues...
Update: No foolin,’ via USA Today’s Kevin Allen:
The new Winnipeg team will compete in the NHL’s Southeast Division next season because it’s too late to realign for 2011-12. But the Detroit Red Wings hope to move to the Eastern Conference to allow Winnipeg to move to the West.
“I can assure you that Commissioner Gary Bettman knows (owner) Mike Ilitch’s thoughts on this,” said Jim Devellano, Detroit’s senior vice president. “I guess all I can say is that we have our fingers crossed.”
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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.