Wings and Jets to Swap Divisions?
For some reason, there was an explosion of NHL realignment talk and it was all concerning the Winnipeg Jets (obviously) and the Detroit Red Wings.
Bob McKenzie of TSN has said that Detroit has first dibs to move to the Eastern Conference, with Winnipeg moving West:
"More and more NHL governors convinced Detroit will be moving to Southeast Division in Eastern Conference when realignment done in early December. If Detroit goes to SE (East), it's plausible and possible Winnipeg could take Detroit's place in Central Division (West).
Realignment would be done. Nothing firm yet on realignment, but Detroit has been good soldier in West for long time. Winnipeg would be fine with Central as opposed to NW. If that happened, Dallas would be most unhappy. Stars want in Central Division."
There are a few things that are interesting about these comments by McKenzie. First, this is the first time anyone has ever said that Winnipeg and Detroit could just switch divisions, keeping it simple and not destroying every division and conference and starting new.
Interestingly enough, McKenzie never once mentions Nashville or Columbus. We've went over this a million times, the Jets will be in the West next year, so someone in the West needs to move over. Yes, Nashville is clearly a better fit in the Southeast Division and Columbus is a tiny bit more West. But keep in mind that Mike Illitch was "promised" the Wings would be the first to move.
Detroit has soldiered through countless seasons in the West with crazy travel times and distances. Columbus and Nashville have as well, but they've only been in league for a decade.
I am all for having Detroit in the East. Detroit fans are sick and tired of having to watch playoff games at 10 o'clock at night in San Jose and Phoenix.
Interestingly enough, if Detroit was in the Southeast they would have to travel farther than their divisional rivals in the Central. I assume they would rather have that than their Western Canada and California road trips. But wouldn't it be weird to talk about the great Detroit Red Wings, an Original Six team, playing their rivals the Florida Panthers? Doesn't sound right to me.
But, in the other hand, Detroit has in fact played Washington and Carolina in the Finals (1998 and 2002), so there is a shallow history there. Add in that Ex-Red Wing great Steve Yzerman is the GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning and you could create new rivalries.
I think the main issue is the scheduling. If there are clearly rivalries with teams that are "storied" and people can't stand to see them go, then schedule some matchups four times a year. Just because the teams are in opposite conferences shouldn't mean they never play. Have Detroit play Chicago four times, that's fine with me. Detroit has plenty of rivals in the East; Toronto, Montreal, Pittsburgh just to name a few.
Just get Detroit into the East and all Wings faithful will hate Gary Bettman a tiny bit less.