If there’s one team that’s likely to get what it wants out of this week’s NHL Board of Governors meetings in Pebble Beach, it’s Detroit. The Red Wings have been patient and discreet in their push to be moved to the Eastern Conference, two traits that commissioner Gary Bettman has rewarded in the past. Perhaps if Jim Balsillie had chosen a similar strategy in his pursuit of a franchise…but that’s another story.
Detroit is hoping to get two things with a move to the east. First is more of its fans being able to watch road games on TV without staying up past midnight and hating themselves in the morning. Second is a reduction in travel.
“It’s very, very simple from the Red Wings’ standpoint,” senior VP Jimmy Devellano said, as per the Windsor Star. “What we would like to avoid is going far west twice (during the regular season). We understand we need to go there once. To go twice is terrible for TV ratings, extra travel expenses that many teams don’t share in. That’s really our only concern.”
Travel has also been a factor for the Wings during the postseason.
“That’s when you feel it the most — in the playoffs,” Henrik Zetterberg told the Detroit News. “If we cut some of the travel, that would be good.”
In the major realignment proposal that’s being presented to the BOG Monday, Detroit is placed in a conference (there are four conferences, not divisions) with Columbus (which wants the same two things as the Wings), Chicago, St. Louis, Minnesota, Winnipeg, Dallas and Nashville. The top four teams in each conference would make the playoffs, with the first two rounds being played within the conference. So the farthest the Wings would have to travel in the first two rounds is to Dallas, whereas they’ve had to go to Phoenix and San Jose in each of the last two years.