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Let the wild rumors and speculation regarding realignment begin

Ugh. This was supposed to be simple—regardless of whether the Thrashers move to Winnipeg or Mars, they’d play in the Southeast Division and we wouldn’t be talking about realignment until next summer’s Board of Governors meeting as the Board, which meets on June 21st, has the final say as to whether the Thrashers go. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, being a diligent and studious reporter, says that it’s messier (not Mark) than one could possibly imagine when it comes to realignment:

Realignment would very likely wait another year, meaning Winnipeg would play one season in the Southeast Division, because the league believes all board members deserve a say on the matter. All kinds of scenarios are in play. This might be a chance to do a massive overhaul of the league’s divisions and conferences, not just switch one team with another, a source told ESPN.com Friday.

In the words of Linda Richman, “discuss.”

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Comments

MsRedWinger's avatar

A “massive overhaul” might not be a bad idea.  Like, how about north/south conferences so every team has to do cross-continent travel?...

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 05/21/11 at 05:18 PM ET

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Personally, I like the idea of having 4 divisions and doing away with conferences.  (I first saw this as a suggestion by a commenter on another blog.)  You could put them together regionally which would give all teams similar travel schedules and allow them to mostly play in one or two timezones.

Possibility:
North: MTL, BOS, BUF, TOR, OTT, NYI, NYR, NJ
West: VAN, EDM, CGY, SJS, LAK, ANA, COL, PHX
Central: DET, CHI, DAL, CBJ, MIN, STL, WIN
South: TB, FLA, WSH, CAR, PHI, PIT, NSH

Of course, you could change a few (or more than a few), such as putting DAL in the south or COL in the central.  Other than the West division above, all other teams could be arranged in several ways without too much trouble for travel or timezone changes (all in EST or CST, unless I’m mistaken).  I was tempted to put DET in the North, but that would put 5 of the Original 6 teams together and leave CHI out.  Although, it could probably be finagled to put both DET and CHI in the North, but I don’t know if anyone would go for having all of them in one division.  I also assumed ATL is going to Winnipeg.  If it doesn’t but they still change the system, you could change WIN to ATL and put it in the south.

Posted by puppydogbones from Muskegon, currently in WNY on 05/21/11 at 06:00 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

Understanding Bettman, which makes me want to go shower off, if only 1 team moves from East to West, ( Atlanta) and they indeed eventually balance the conferences by moving just 1 team to the Eastern Conference, it will likely be Columbus, NOT Detroit.

Detroit is needed in the West more than Columbus to generate fan interest, rivalry, and to sell tickets and put butts in seats of many western conference cities that do not otherwise sell out.  Detroit has huge, huge followings in Nashville, Phoenix, Anaheim and Los Angeles, substantial fans in San Jose and Dive City and Dallas, and elsewhere helps draw local fans every city they go.  That doesn’t happen when the Columbus Blue Jackets come to town.

By and large the Eastern Conference cities sell out more and already have higher attendance figures than the Western Conference.  If Detroit would contribute to any increase in attendance in the Eastern Conference it would be small compared to the guaranteed sellouts and attendance increases that the Red Wings generate in many Western cities.

If just one franchise realigns to the Eastern Conference, the money talking says it will be Columbus.  Detroit moving to the East will be a revenue loss for NHL, Inc., and damage the western franchises that Gary has been trying to prop up.

So the grossly unfair playoff trips around the world?  They will continue, those 24 and 27 time zones they travel though each playoff season that always take its toll.  It will continue, and the fact that it gives other franchises an advantage over Detroit will also not be lost on Gary Bettman.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with creepy Rob Lowe. on 05/21/11 at 08:52 PM ET

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Like, how about north/south conferences so every team has to do cross-continent travel?...

It might be interesting to at least explore this, but Ron MacLean posed this idea directly to Bettman during one of Gary Ass’s annual visits to HNIC and it was immediately and emphatically shot down.

Posted by BobTheZee on 05/21/11 at 09:51 PM ET

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CBJ or Nashville will go east before Detroit.

North: MTL, BOS, BUF, TOR, OTT, NYI, NYR, NJ
West: VAN, EDM, CGY, SJS, LAK, ANA, COL, PHX
Central: DET, CHI, DAL, CBJ, MIN, STL, WIN
South: TB, FLA, WSH, CAR, PHI, PIT, NSH

This is a good plan for the Central and West. It falls down when you put Pit and Phi in the South. Snider will never agree to that and it ignores the importance of the NY metroplex rivalries.

Posted by timbits on 05/21/11 at 10:45 PM ET

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Moving Detroit tio the east and Atlanta/Winnipeg to the west would be devastating financially for a number of western teams who count on 2 sellouts a year when the Red Wings come to town. Any realignment that includes Detroit will almost certrainly include a schedule change that send each team ito every other city at least once a year. More games against Eastern opponents would balance out Detroit leaving the conference.

Posted by Bob Paine from Phoenix, AZ on 05/23/11 at 02:05 AM 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.