Even though they were only three months in to their existence, too bad that the Atlanta Thrashers (RIP) didn’t move to Winnipeg prior to the turn of the millennium in 1999-2000. If they did, Thrashers GM Rick Dudley could have flown around the world and celebrated the turn of the new year in every time zone on frequent flier miles alone. If I am the GM of any team in the southeast division, especially Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, I am making sure that all of my frequent flier paper work is in order prior to puck dropping on the upcoming 2011-2012 season.
As the Atlanta Thrashers’ move to Winnipeg marked the second time that an NHL franchise has left Hotlanta for western Canada, the NHL was caught flat-footed in an attempt to realign the conferences and divisions in time for scheduling of the upcoming season. Thus leaving the Jets no option but to play in the eastern conference’s southeast division despite the fact that it’s nearest divisional opponent is nearly 1,500 miles away and it’s furthest is over 2,200 miles away. Although players, media, and coaches may complain about the travel schedule, their flights are chartered so there is no waiting around at airports except due to weather delays. They have people carry their bags. They are picked up in nice vans for all transportation purposes. They stay in the nicest hotels. Every meal is catered (and is probably top notch food). Throw in the fact that they have massage therapists on call any time any part of their body feels sore, as a musician who has zig zagged the continent sleeping on couches, eating bar food, playing in smoky clubs (remember those days?), and carrying heavy music equipment, I personally don’t feel too bad for them.
As I write this, all 30 NHL GMs and Commissioner Gary Bettman are at the board of governor’s meeting a few subway stops away in midtown Manhattan. What is the primary topic? Conference realignment. So lets take a look at the 2012-2013 season. The most logical move would be to move Nashville into the southeast division to take Atlanta’s spot, and move Minnesota to the Central so Winnipeg can take their spot in the northwest. However, in a league run by Gary Bettman, one can expect anything but logic. The Detroit Redwings, champions of complaint, have publicly expressed their strong desire to play in the Eastern Time zone, as their unemployed fans don’t like to stay up late and watch the Wings play out west. Although the BJs and Predators are also in the Eastern Time zone and have expressed interest to play in the east, I can’t see Bettman giving such small market teams anything but the GOP treatment; “Oh you have an idea – NO. What is your idea?”
What could be the best solution? TSN, Faceoff.com, and several other Canadian media outlets have been leaking “insider” information since the announcement of Atlanta’s move that the conferences will be divided into two divisions, each with seven or eight teams. Each team would play teams in their division five to six times, conference opponents twice, and cross conference teams one to two times. What are your thoughts and/or proposals?
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Written by Patrick McLellan