Tag: division realignment

Johan Franzen, Jakub Kindl

Could Detroit end up in the Southeast Division? It’s being discussed


Could the Detroit Red Wings end up in the Southeast Division next year? According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, that’s one realignment move that’s getting the most traction amongst the NHL governors.

According to McKenzie, the idea getting the most run would see the Red Wings move to the Southeast Division and trading places with the Winnipeg Jets in a straight swap, sending the Jets back to the Western Conference. Getting to the Eastern Conference has been high on the Wings’ wish list and with realignment coming next season, there will be changes ahead. It would also mean that fellow Eastern time zone mates in Columbus would be stuck still holding the bag in the Western Conference.

Of course, this move is nearly as logical as having Winnipeg in the Southeast now. The closest team to Detroit, geographically speaking, would be Washington, followed by Carolina. Having the two Florida teams as division mates makes virtually no sense at all. Getting the Red Wings in the mix with Alex Ovechkin and Steve Stamkos (not to mention former Wings captain and current Lightning GM Steve Yzerman) helps create a lot of marquee matchups and added drama.

Winnipeg moving to the Central Division would end the Dallas Stars’ hopes of landing in the Central and getting themselves out of the Pacific Division. It also means that the NHL Board of Governors would be both caving in to Detroit’s wishes (granting a Bettman promise?) while simultaneously wussing out on giving the NHL the radical realignment and four division setup that’s been rumored already.

If you want to throw your tinfoil hat on for a second, the NHL could be holding off on their radical realignment while they figure out just what and potentially where the Phoenix Coyotes end up. Their future in the desert hangs by a thread and if they are forced to relocate, it could change things dramatically. That’s enough of the tinfoil though.

If the NHL wants to get things right, they’ll do it by making things as normal as possible. Planting palm trees in Detroit doesn’t make them a southeastern team. It’s either that or they’re taking the lyrics to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” a bit too literal about that whole “South Detroit” thing.

Did Wild owner Craig Leipold spill the beans on new division alignment?

Dale Tallon, Craig Leipold, Jim Rutherford

The NHL’s plans to realign the divisions next year and go to a new layout for the way the league is set up is an issue that’s got a lot of fans imaginations captured. After all, with the wants of three teams to move east in Columbus, Detroit, and Nashville as well as the need to get Winnipeg out of the Southeast Division, sprucing things up makes a world of sense.Of course, it’ll be tricky for the NHL to get things together in a way that will make everyone happy and while the talk of doing a balanced schedule will help make things a bit more even, laying teams out geographically helps the divisional layout.

While no one at the NHL is tipping their hand as to how things will go, luckily Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold took to the airwaves today on KFAN in Minneapolis on the Paul Allen Show with Kevin Gorg and very well may have tipped off for how the new Central Division will be laid out and how some of these new things will play out. (audio here, skip to 21 minute mark)

“Our division would include the Winnipeg Jets, us, the Blues, the Nashville Predators, the Dallas Stars, Chicago Blackhawks, and maybe the Columbus Blue Jackets… maybe not depending on if they go east or west. I am all in favor of that. I think that is a grand slam, home run, hat trick for our team.”

With that kind of divisional lay out that means we’ll see the Detroit Red Wings somewhere else. We’ll also see them separated from the Blackhawks. The decision over whether or not to send Columbus to the East is also up in the air with this layout. Nashville too seems to be getting worked over as well. The one difference here being that, without Columbus, the entire division exists in the Central time zone.

“We’re all Central Division now. All of our teams, except for Columbus, all of our teams will be Central Division. We’ll play less teams in Canada. We will play every team home and away at least one time.”

There’s the confirmation on the balanced schedule. No longer will it be up to a few years between visits from some teams in other conferences. That set up makes a lot more sense because it means getting the guaranteed one visit a year for Western teams from the likes of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, and Steve Stamkos among others. Bringing the big stars to all the fans only makes good business sense.

As for how Leipold feels about being aligned with Winnipeg, he couldn’t be more excited. Oh yeah, he’s pretty fired up about the old Norris Division tie-ins too. There’s also a bittersweet slip of the tongue too.

“Everybody’s talking about it. We’d love to have Winnipeg. It’s a natural rivalry for us. The closest team in the NHL [for us] is Winnipeg. We’d love to have them in that division. I think with Chicago and St. Louis the old North Star divi… I mean Norris Division. Come on… How much fun is that?”

Hey, North Star Division would sound great to us just so long as the other divisions were named after defunct teams. Let’s just make sure they’re named after teams that have no chance of being resurrected in the future. Sorry Nordiques Division.

Of course with the Central Division mostly figured out, where do the rest of the teams go? Well, the Pacific Division and Western Conference seems to have itself figured out already.

Potential Central Division
St. Louis

Potential Pacific Division
Los Angeles
San Jose

That’s 15 teams in the conference with one division having seven teams and the other with eight, fitting what we’d learned before. Columbus being the “maybe” team there means that perhaps there’s discussion on whether or not it’ll be Columbus or Detroit that stays in the Central. No disrespect to either Columbus or Detroit, but that Central Division has a lot more “oomph” to it with Detroit there.

If that layout stays that way, however, that leaves the Eastern Conference with Boston, Buffalo, Carolina, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Toronto, and Washington. Figuring out a way to lay that out in a geographically sound way will be tricky with Carolina and the Florida teams being outliers. Perhaps something that’s more map-friendly would work out. Here’s our silly suggestion that borrows a bit from the ACC:

Possible Atlantic Division
New Jersey
NY Islanders
NY Rangers
Tampa Bay

Possible Mid-Atlantic Division

Our thinking here being that all the teams along the extreme east coast will all stick together and all the teams that find themselves a bit further out from the ocean can be piled up together. Mind you, this is a totally silly idea, but given the disproportionate difference between teams in the north and south the proposed idea to do a Northeast and South division might not work out.

All we know is that the Mid-Atlantic Division would be a bloodbath with the three Canadian teams, renewed Original Six wars with Detroit against Toronto and Montreal, and the Wings getting to play Pittsburgh more than a few times per year. Let that hate flow anew. Of course, if Detroit and Columbus swapped spots there, it’s still intriguing but potentially brutal for the Jackets.

We don’t know for sure that Leipold’s take on the Central Division is true and we won’t know until something is announced later on, but he sounded awfully convinced that this was how things would shake out and being that he’s an owner, he’s privy to that kind of information. Speculate away and see if you can come up with better ideas than these.

(Major thanks to PHT reader and commenter “whatagreatfootballmind” for the tip)

Report: Major realignment coming to NHL next season


Things are going to look odd this year with Winnipeg playing in the Southeast Division and the Red Wings and Blue Jackets continuing to play in the Eastern time zone while existing in the Western Conference. Those days may be long over after this season, however, as it’s being reported by The Sporting News’ Craig Custance that major realignment is on the way to the NHL next season.

With Winnipeg in the Southeast and three teams in Columbus, Detroit, and Nashville itching to get out of the Western Conference and into the Eastern Conference, something’s got to give to help make sense of things for all the teams and help normalize things. Custance talked with an unnamed NHL executive who said that things will break down in a most fascinating way.

“The fact remains that there are three teams that should be in the East that are in the West,” the executive said. “The only way you can make everybody happy is by restructuring the whole thing. That’s what they’re working on.”

The leading plan calls for the league to be divided into four divisions — two with eight teams and two with seven teams. The plan is expected to be finalized during the December Board of Governers meetings.

Huh, four divisions you say? Two with seven teams? Say, there’s seven Canadian teams in the NHL once again with Winnipeg back in the mix. That wouldn’t be too obvious, right?

This kind of set up also makes us think back to when the divisions had legendary names like Patrick, Adams, Norris, and Smythe and they played in the Campbell and Wales Conferences. With throwbacks being all the rage, especially with Winnipeg going by the Jets once again, it’d be fascinating to see things shake down like that again. It’s doubtful but you never know.

What will be most interesting is how they’ll breakdown the playoffs out of this setup. Another throwback idea could involve the NHL bringing back the divisional playoffs that see the top four teams in each division make the postseason and then face off tournament style against each other like the NHL used to do in the 1980s.

In that format the division leader would face the fourth place team and the second and third place teams would battle to face each other in the divisional finals. The winners of the divisional playoffs would then square off in the conference finals and then on to the Stanley Cup finals. With rumors of a balanced schedule coming back, settling things out this way would again make sense because then every team is playing each other evenly.

That much is far off and with the possibility of the new alignment being worked out at the December Board of Governors meeting we’ll have something figured out soon enough. For now, it’s time for everyone to get creative with how they think things will end up being broken down. Do we see a resurrection of the Norris Division? Will we get an all-Canada division? How about the return of the Patrick Division where you get Washington and Pittsburgh joining the Flyers, Rangers, Islanders, and Devils? Good lord.  Give it your best shot in the comments to figure things out.

Thrashers updates: Press conference to come soon, realignment might wait until 2012


Again, it seems like it’s just a matter of time until the Atlanta Thrashers will relocate to Winnipeg. Still, there are some details to hash out. Here are some hazy updates about the situation from Tuesday’s round of news.

  • There are differing viewpoints regarding the date for an official announcement about the relocation.

On one hand, Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz said that an announcement should come before the end of this week. Meanwhile, The Globe & Mail – aka the Canadian newspaper that originally indicated an announcement would be made today – indicated that an announcement might not be made until Memorial Day (Monday, May 30). It might seem like a formality, but scheduling reasons add urgency to the proceedings.

  • Speaking of which, SB Nation Atlanta indicates that the NHL might not realign its divisions until the 2012-13 season. That might make sense if it takes a while to hash out the smaller details of the Thrashers-to-Winnipeg deal, but it might also make it a tough season for the “Winnipeg Thrashers” and the rest of the Southeast Division.

Dirk Hoag of On the Forecheck compared the combined travel distance teams went through during the 2010-11 season versus what it would have been like if Atlanta’s games were played in Winnipeg instead. Hoag found that the “Winnipeg Thrashers” would have traveled about 66,300 miles instead of 44,000 in the same schedule, which would be 10,000 more than any team went through in the previous three seasons.

While the NHL’s schedule makers will likely attempt to ease some of their traveling burden for the 2011-12 season, the relocated Thrashers team could have the deck stacked against them in a serious way. One could imagine some lengthy road trips through the Southeast Division to at least limit the amount of times they need to make those big trips.

If you want to read more on the subject of realignment, check out PHT’s take along with which team our readers think might find themselves in a new division once realignment takes place.


Naturally, we’ll keep you up to date regarding all the pertinent issues surrounding the likely relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers. Stay tuned.