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Realignment talk resurfaces

TSN’s Darren Dreger brought up a topic close to many bleary-eyed Red Wings fans’ hearts these days, but I want to state, on the record, that I don’t think it’s ever going to happen:

For years, discussion on realignment in the NHL has included the Detroit Red Wings shifting to the Eastern Conference. In the event the National Hockey League considers restructuring, Detroit has suggested they would like first consideration.

Moving to the East and playing in their own time zone would help with travel and television, plus the natural rivalries the Red Wings would quickly develop with Toronto, Buffalo and others make such a move attractive to Detroit. This week, the Wings are on a West Coast swing with all three weekday game broadcasts at 10pm et or later - tough sell in an Eastern time zone.

The possibility of realignment is topical because of the speculation of relocation swirling around the Phoenix Coyotes and Atlanta Thrashers. If Winnipeg rejoins the NHL through the demise of the Phoenix Coyotes, there are no guarantees there would be a realignment. However, it’s logical to assume a divisional shuffle would take place and the Detroit Red Wings would be granted the move.

It’s also possible the Coyotes/Jets would simply occupy a spot in the Western Conference and very little divisional adjustments would be made.

This is all highly speculative given the state of the Coyotes and the Thrashers.

I’m well aware of the fact that Gary Bettman essentially promised Mike Ilitch and Jimmy Devellano to consider giving the Wings first preference in any sort of realignment of the NHL’s Western and Eastern Conferences in the cases of expansion and/or relocation in exchange for the Devellano’s Board of Governors vote to lock out the players in 2004, but even if the NHL were to see the Thrashers move west, or even expand into Las Vegas or Kansas City, there’s no way in hell that the Red Wings are moving East. The Blue Jackets or Predators in particular would move East first.

Why? The Red Wings sell out road rinks in places like Phoenix and fill in any missing seats wherever they play. They and the Blackhawks are the West’s “anchor tenants,” and the NHL isn’t going to push Detroit into the East if it means taking money out of the pockets of 14 or more Western Conference teams’ pockets.

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Comments

SnLO's avatar

Which is exactly why the league should do away with this East/West crap and have a more balanced schedule.

Posted by SnLO from the sub great-white north on 03/03/11 at 08:45 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Why? The Red Wings sell out road rinks in places like Phoenix and fill in any missing seats wherever they play. They and the Blackhawks are the West’s “anchor tenants,” and the NHL isn’t going to push Detroit into the East if it means taking money out of the pockets of 14 or more Western Conference teams’ pockets.

Bingo.  Well-put, George.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 03/03/11 at 08:59 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Why? The Red Wings sell out road rinks in places like Phoenix and fill in any missing seats wherever they play. They and the Blackhawks are the West’s “anchor tenants,” and the NHL isn’t going to push Detroit into the East if it means taking money out of the pockets of 14 or more Western Conference teams’ pockets.

+19.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 03/03/11 at 09:22 PM ET

Avatar

Columbus needs to move to the East before Detroit does.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 03/03/11 at 09:37 PM ET

Jeff  OKWingnut's avatar

Yeah - but the Wings can also sell huge amount of tix in Tampa and Miami

Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 03/03/11 at 09:37 PM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

Funny isn’t it, everybody loves to hate on the Wings in places like:

Chicago, St.Louis, Columbus, Nashville, Phoenix, Dallas, L.A. anaheim, Denver .
 

The fans in those towns may hate us wing fans , but the owners and their adjustable ticket pricing plan for when the wings are in town, well their just plain giddy with a packed house at least 4 to 6 times a season.

Little gary will NEVER move Detroit to the East. Even if multiple teams relocate to Canada.

Posted by Down River Dan on 03/03/11 at 09:40 PM ET

Crow's avatar

A Buttman promise is good as….......Ok the wings are not moving east.  I don’t mind the late night west coast games during the weekend, but they are killing me during the week.  Looks like another one tonight.  Damn you little gary!  Go Wings!

Posted by Crow on 03/03/11 at 10:05 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

I like that we are in the West, maybe being in the East would soften us a little bit.

But those west coast trips… no one deserves midnight ot 1am games.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 03/03/11 at 10:48 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

I say it every time the topic comes up and I’ll say it here too. Stop with the geographic conferences. Shuffle em up like MLB does. Spread the O6 around a little. Share the sun belt teams. Split the New York franchises. Balance the schedule a bit more and most importantly, make every team suffer travel equally.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 03/03/11 at 11:18 PM ET

DetroitHockey's avatar

If the Wings organization went with the lockout in order to get moved to the East, but everyone knows there’s not a chance they’re actually going to get moved, why did they really go along with the lockout?

Posted by DetroitHockey on 03/03/11 at 11:23 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

They had to. There was no doubt that the NHL would have to walk in lock step.

And Ilitch is an owner. He can be swayed by big talk on occasion.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 03/03/11 at 11:49 PM ET

cowboycoffee's avatar

i’d hate it if i couldn’t see the Wings in San Jose any more.
though i’m working in stupid DC right now and can’t be at the game.

Posted by cowboycoffee from San Francisco, CA on 03/04/11 at 02:10 AM ET

Avatar

Geographically, if Atlanta moves west, Nashville would need to fit in the SE division… Otherwise Pittsburgh? Philly in the SE?  Nah!

I agree with a few other posts, get rid of geographic division/conf.  Why not have a rotating division bases on standings each year to eliminate teams tanking for draft spots and playing to play in reasonable divisions.  Tha NHL needs to learn that rivalries aren’t made in divisions, they are made in the playoffs!

Posted by Johnnyg from USA on 03/04/11 at 02:31 AM ET

Avatar

This problem is easy to solve.

1st:
Fire Bettman

2nd:
Take teams OUT of places that don’t like hockey, don’t know anything about hockey, and most importantly, don’t watch or attend hockey…in other words, Gary’s little ego projects in Phoenix, Nashville, Miami (Florida), Atlanta, etc.

3rd:
Put those teams in places that DO like hockey, know about hockey, and watch and attend hockey, like Winnipeg, Quebec City, Seattle, Portland.

Atlanta - Quebec City
Phoenix - Winnipeg (If Bettman put even half the effort into keeping the team in Winnipeg as he has in keeping it in Phoenix it would never have left Winnipeg)
Nasvhille-Portland
Florida-Seattle

Quebec City stays in the East.
Winnipeg stays in the West
Portland, and Seattle come West.
Detroit, Columbus go East.

-Western teams get better travel with 2 new teams in the NorthWest and not having to travel to Detroit/Columbus in the Eastern time zone.
-Detroit Columbus can start playing games in their own time zone for a change.
-4 of the NHL’s worst attended teams now become 4 of the NHL’s best attended teams
-With Bettman fired, the NHL can go back to becoming an entertaining, successful league run by people who know and understand the game.

Posted by Sporting Vancouver from Van-City on 03/04/11 at 05:25 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

Exactly right George. The West without the Wings becomes irrelevant to the mainstream hockey media, which already focuses a majority of its attention on eastern seaboard games.

The Hawks have some tradition, and the Canucks have been good, but the Wings hold that conference afloat.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 03/04/11 at 10:40 AM ET

Avatar

Sporty Vancouver,
Ok first of all when I read the first line “fire Bettman” I have to stop, since it shows you know very little about how things work.  The owners employ Bettman, therefore they are the only ones who can fire him.
Second, like or hate Bettman the NHL has grown leaps and bounds over the past 3 seasons alone, we can criticize him for many things but the state of the sport is hard to touch.
I dint disagree about Winnipeg and Quebec, but Seattle and Portland ??? Seriously???  Are you smoking crack?

Posted by Johnnyg on 03/04/11 at 11:58 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Ok first of all when I read the first line “fire Bettman” I have to stop, since it shows you know very little about how things work.  The owners employ Bettman, therefore they are the only ones who can fire him.
Second, like or hate Bettman the NHL has grown leaps and bounds over the past 3 seasons alone, we can criticize him for many things but the state of the sport is hard to touch.

The league disciplinary policy is part of the state of the sport.
The concussion issue is part of the state of the sport.
The lack of a transfer agreement with the KHL is a part of the state of the sport.

Speaking of those “leaps and bounds” by which the NHL has grown, where has that growth come from?

Half the teams in the league have not seen “leaps and bounds” growth and the half who have seen that growth have enjoyed a weak revenue sharing system through which they’ve shared very little of either leaps or bounds among the entire league.

Bettman doesn’t have to keep all of his bosses happy, just half of them.

The housing market grew by leaps and bounds once too…

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 03/04/11 at 12:15 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.