KALAMAZOO, Michigan -----
A report from CBC's Elliotte Friedman that aired on tonight's Hockey Night in Canada has major news regarding NHL realignment for next year. According to the report, the NHL and NHLPA are working on a proposal that has the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Detroit Red Wings moving to the Eastern Conference beginning next season. The biggest issue for the past 2 years is that the Winnipeg Jets (formerly Atlanta Thrashers) have been playing in the East's Southeast Division. Winnipeg is over 1,500 miles from it's closest division opponent. The new proposal essentially divides the current Conferences in 2, thus creating an East 1, East 2, and West 1, and West 2. Here is a look at the proposed realignment:
Eastern Conference 1: Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, NY Isles, NY Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington
Eastern Conference 2: Boston, Buffalo, DETROIT, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, and Toronto
Western Conference 1: Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, and Winnipeg.
Western Conference 2: Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, and Vancouver
The biggest change you'll notice is the Red Wings and Blue Jackets are now in the Eastern Conference, which makes the most sense since they are in the Eastern Time Zone. So far, this is the most logical plan the NHL & NHLPA have come up with. Detroit also moves into the same conference as Original 6 foes Boston, Toronto, and Montreal. This is awesome news for fans who have longed to see these teams play more and develop renewed rivalries. There is also talk of a Wild Card playoff round for the 2 East Conferences that have 8 teams in them. We're not sure yet how that would work out, but again, this is just a proposal.
Much more work is to be done, but this is just a start. Stay with DSN for updates on the latest Red Wings news! GO WINGS!