With the ever-persisting "news" that one of the southern teams will definitely be moving to Winnipeg because they love hockey there and one of the richest men in the world will buy the team and is willing to lose money, it only stands to reason that at some point where there's smoke there's bound to be fire.
And this time, it appears that Atlanta may in fact be burning.
Globe & Mail: Thrashers moving to Winnipeg?
If this does happen, while it'll suck for the fanbase in Atlanta, it could spell victory for teams looking to get out of their current divisional or conference alignments. Teams actively pursuing a change are: Nashville, Detroit, Columbus, Minnesota and Dallas.
We figured we might as well give this realignment thing a shot. Follow us after the jump.
JS: With all of the rumors of Detroit wanting to move to the East, this would be a pretty bad thing for the Western Conference, simply because it'll be yet log in the ''Eastern Conference bias'' fire. Sure, the Conference would become easier for the Wild, but I'm getting pretty tired of having the same damn teams and players shoved in my face and Detroit going to the East won't help in that regard one bit.
If Detroit does move to the East, it would probably look something like this: (My Geography sucks, I did not realize how many western teams could actually be eastern teams!)
Northeast: Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Boston, (Detroit or Buffalo): Please be Detroit! I would piss my pants. Take that, Habs!
Southeast: Here is where problems would arise. With Atlanta gone, there's Washington, Tampa Bay, Carolina and Florida. Who takes the fifth spot?
The teams that are left are Buffalo, New York R, New York I and New Jersey, all in the New York area, all to the north, which leaves Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, two teams close enough to Washington, but can you really seperate these two Pennsylvania teams? If they do, make my words, it'll be Pittsburgh so that we get to see Crosby v. Ovechkin a million times per season until the already semi-meaningless rivalry loses all it's luster.
Atlantic: Buffalo, New York R, New York I, New Jersey, Philadelphia.
Northwest: Winnipeg would probably take the spot of either Minnesota or Colorado here. Minnesota is far away from the Canadian teams, meaning they have to change times zones for each divisional game, but Colorado is further south. It would look like Winnipeg, Minnesota/Colorado, and those Canadian teams.
Central: If Minnesota moves, it would be here, with Columbus, Nashville, St-Louis and Chicago, and that would probably be a dream conference for us in terms of rivalries (Columbus, St-Louis, Chicago mostly) and interest, not to mention simplicity for the players. However, if Colorado moves, the Central would be Dallas, Columbus, Nashville, St. Louis, Chicago, with Colorado taking Dallas' place in the Pacific.
Pacific: If Colorado moves, it would be here, with L.A, Anaheim, San Jose and Phoenix. If not, Nothing changes.
The only other team I would logically see get moved to the East would be Nashville. If that happens, Nashville takes Atlanta's place, rest of the East is untouched and Minnesota/Colorado takes their place in the Central, with Winnipeg in the northwest. Again, that would be great for Wild fans who are also Chicago and Detroit fans (Lord knows there are a lot) and for team travel, but the idea of seeing Datsyuk 6 times a year excites and scares me at the same time.
Either way you look at it, I think if Winnipeg does come back into the league, they're probably taking Minnesota's spot on the Northwest, but Colorado is also a possibility.
While either Nashville or Columbus to the Southeast and Detroit to the Northeast as distinct possibilities, Winnipeg to the Northwest or Central, Dallas to the Central and Minnesota to the Central there are limited numbers of realistic changes. The East/West alignment will not change. Regional travel and start times being what they are, the NHL needs to limit costs in this market, so I don't see a shift there.
So, here's my recommendation:
Atlantic: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey. Any change here is, frankly, stupid. These teams (aside from the Pens) are within an hour or so commute, they own the market share and splitting them is a bad economic decision.
Northeast: Boston, Montreal, Buffalo, Toronto, Detroit. Putting Detroit in this division gives them yet another big market, gives the Eastern time-zone Red Wings what they want and makes the sycophants at NBC and Versus happy to get even more Red Wings games to put on national television. Are you telling me that televising more Detroit-Habs, Detroit-Bruins and Detroit-Toronto games doesn't make the suits salivate?
Southeast: Washington, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Florida, Nashville. It only makes sense that Nashville moves to the Southeast. The travel times are better, the fanbases already hate each other from college football and NASCAR affiliations. It's the logical change.
Central: Chicago, St. Louis, Minnesota, Columbus, Dallas. Heartland country baby. No, I am not recreating the Norris. Yeah, it was very tempting, but frankly, it didn't make sense. Selfishly, it gets us out of the regular 9:30 start times, puts us into rivalries with our expansion brothers, the city that stole our team and, well, Secord still sucks.
Northwest: Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa. This is an all-Canada division now. Yeah, Ottawa is further east than Minnesota, but al all-Canadian division would make Don Cherry soil his horrible suits.
Pacific: San Jose, Anaheim, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Colorado. Colorado is in Mountain time, Phoenix is in Mountain time (sometimes) so it only makes sense to replace Dallas with Colorado. The Stars fans are, frankly, the ones with the biggest gripe right now, as they play all of their road games with a late start.
With reports flying that the Thrashers to Winnipeg is a done deal, not a done deal, done deal, I guess I can set aside my partisan blinders and throw in my two cents about realignment. If it were me, I move Nashville to the SE, opening up a spot in the central. The Wild move into a division that then makes it easier to travel and play in, and one that unless they turn the team into a powerhouse, the Wild will never win. That opens up the Northwest for out new "friends" to the north.
Of course, Detroit holds a ton of clout with the league, and they have wanted to move East since the East actually existed. Columbus was given promises that they would move if the chance were presented. Neither of those teams make much sense in the East, as they cause there to be even more movement out East, as neither would fit in the Southeast. Detroit becomes an immediate perennial division champion in any division in the East, and Columbus... well, they don't change anything much.
The choice is obvious to me. Move the Preds, move the Wild, move the Jets/Moose/Not Going to be Around in Ten Years. Yeah. I'm bitter.
So there you have it. That's my "radical" realignment. What would you do?