The topic of realignment hasn’t come up at all in CBA negotiations, but if a new deal is reached to save the season we might see two teams trade conferences.
Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports there’s talk within the NHL of having the Columbus Blue Jackets and Winnipeg Jets trading spots for this year only pending future realignment. The benefit here during a possible 48-game schedule is on travel.
If the Jets start a shortened season in the Southeast Division once again, travel for them would be murderous over the course of the four or five month season. Columbus staying in the Central Division wouldn’t be much better for them travel-wise and certainly wouldn’t be helpful competitively.
On the upside, we’d get to have that awkward “Rick Nash returns to Columbus as a New York Ranger” game right away this season. There’d also be Sergei Bobrovsky’s revenge match with Philadelphia to look forward to as well.
If it’s just a one-season fix, it works out just fine. It cuts down on manic travel for a couple teams in awkward positions and opens the door for things to be fixed for good in the offseason.
Plus, as Brooks so bluntly put it, you’re trading one non-playoff team for another one in the name of easing travel. Win-win situation.
Minnesota owner “disappointed” with rejected realignment
“To say I am disappointed in the actions of the NHLPA to deny consent to implement realignment for next season is an understatement. Our fans were universally excited to be playing against midwestern teams in the previous old Norris Division.
“I’m disappointed for our fans, our employees and our players. It appears everyone wanted this to happen except the leaders of the players’ union. I pledge to Wild fans to continue to pursue this realignment plan as aggressively as possible.”
Leipold’s comments aren’t surprising, especially since the Wild were thought to be one of the “winners” of NHL realignment. Sportsnet’s John Shannon noted Minnesota (and Dallas) were the only teams in their divisions in the central time zone; both were pleased to cut down travel and make their televised road games start at more reasonable times.
Ilya Bryzgalov sums up realignment in simple, delightful way
In some ways, it seems like Ilya Bryzgalov and the Philadelphia Flyers makes for a union that’s only slightly more promising than Kris Humphries and Kim Kardashian. Bryzgalov can be a sensitive soul and Philly fans are known for being a little … harsh. On the bright side, Breezy can be awfully funny and strange. That side shows up in his simple synopsis of realignment (which he learned about through the media on Tuesday, according to CSNPhilly.com’s Sarah Baicker).
In case you had trouble making out his response, Baicker transcribed it as: “That’s much more travel, huh? Damn!”
Sure, Maxime Talbot and Kimmo Timonen gave deeper, more nuanced responses to the realignment talk, but Breezy’s response might be the most honest (and is certainly the most amusing). Generally speaking, the new format will give “West” teams a travel break and force “East” teams to travel a bit more. (I put the two current conferences in quotation marks because there won’t really be Eastern or Western conferences anymore.)
Long story short, Bryzgalov would probably vote for his own team as the biggest “loser” of realignment. Share your own opinion on who will deal the best and worst breaks from this pending change by voting in this poll.