The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/03/11 at 07:37 PM ET
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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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.