Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The realignment band-aid? Or just laziness?

While we're at it, why not realign this way?  [Rolls eyes]
TSN's Bob McKenzie is reporting (as presented by Yahoo! Sports' Puck Daddy) that the NHL is gathering steam for a realignment "plan" that would swap spots between Detroit and Winnipeg only when they meet to realign the league in December.  In this approach, Winnipeg moves to the Central Division while Detroit slots into the Southeast Division.  And that would be that.

Puck Daddy offers up all sorts of reasons why this is a really dumb way to conduct a realignment, and I agree with him.  Detroit has just as much a logistical claim to being in the East as Columbus in my book (Shut up, Nashville.  We didn't put you in the Central time zone.), but the notion that Detroit would be in a division with Washington, Carolina and the two Florida teams for the foreseeable future is silly.  Let's be honest: Swapping Winnipeg for Columbus is a stretch of common sense as well, but Columbus is that much closer to the Southeast.  A larger realignment would be more logical, but logic and the National Hockey League rarely intersect.

Of course, this is all speculation.  However, McKenzie is a pretty solid journalist, and he won't report something that doesn't have legs.  Thus, we have to presume that the Winnipeg-Detroit/Southeast-Central swap is a going concern.

As I try to rationalize this goofiness in my mind, I can only come up with two plausible explanations:

  1. Fat, dumb and happy: The Eastern Conference teams (who clearly have no designs on winning the Stanley Cup by permitting a move of Detroit into their conference) like everything just the way it is and honestly would have been just as happy to keep Winnipeg in the Southeast.  Well, everyone except those Southeast teams that have to travel to Winnipeg all the time.  If this explanation is true, the "larger realignment" suggested above seems less likely.
  2. The band-aid: This is a one-year solution, two at maximum, while the NHL waits for the Phoenix relocation shoe to drop.  The 'Yotes are on life support in Phoenix, with the team relying upon a $25 million annual gift from the City of Glendale to keep the books in balance.  I can't see that lasting much longer, as the whole idea of direct "NHL franchise welfare" payment was sold as a bridge payment while the NHL found a new, private owner.  The owner hasn't materialized (or, better said, the owner materialized and then evaporated).  How much longer will the taxpayers support this madness? So if the Desert Doggies are on the verge of moving, why not wait to see where they land before shuffling the realignment deck?
The Blue Jackets have been playing exceedingly nice in the NHL sandbox - the non-appeal of James Wisniewski's 8 regular season game suspension (resulting in over $500,000 in lost income for Wiz) while agent Allen Walsh howls and appeals over client Pierre-Marc Bouchard's two-game suspension for the de-teething of Matt Calvert being the most dramatic example of said behavior.  However, a bunch of "Why change?" NHL Governors from the East, an uncertain future in Phoenix and a Detroit bull in the NHL realignment china shop doesn't bode well for Columbus come December.  


  1. While everyone wants to focus on geography, I say look at the schedule! Balance the schedule, and it doesn't really matter about divisions.

    Hell, make the schedule completely balanced, and let the top 16 teams in the playoffs.

    My biggest beef is the 10pm starting times...can't keep eyes open for the 3rd period.

  2. Columbus and Detroit have basically the same arguments for moving East. Except that Detroit has rivals in the East and Columbus doesn't. Since Detroit has been "playing nice in the sandbox" for longer than Columbus has existed they should get to go first.

    Columbus should be moved too eventually, but they're in the same position Detroit was in back in 1998 when the NHL allowed Toronto to move first. Toronto had more clout with the league, complained more, and Detroit decided to wait until the next time there was realignment.

    As a Leafs fan, Detroit and Toronto belong in the same conference. They are each others true rival. The Hawks are not the Wings main rival for NHL fans older than 25, same thing goes for Leafs fans older than 25 with regard to Montreal.

  3. You have done an excellent job of research and writing.


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