Reed Review 6/08: The Winnipeg Effect & the Division Shuffle

With the announcement that the Atlanta to Winnipeg trade is close enough to be called a done deal there are two things that people want to know. What the 7th Canadian team will be called and of course how will things change in the conferences/divisions.

Let’s commence by getting one of the most discussed topics out of the way, the team name. In a poll done by the local newspaper in Winnipeg 63% of residents said the team name should be the Jets. As much as I enjoy linking old generation to new generation hockey I have to play the devil’s advocate. Speaking from the perspective of the owner of the team naming them the Jets could very well lose you money, fewer jersey purchases is only the beginning. Looking at a past team, when a franchise came back to Minnesota the owners believed a clean slate was necessary and therefore for that reason, we have the Minnesota Wild. What’s best for the league and ultimately the fans in my mind is to pick a new name, and look forward to a bright future of hockey in Winnipeg.

My favourite suggestion that I’ve heard so far other than the Jets, is the Winnipeg Rebels, runner-up going to the Winnipeg Voyageurs. If you’ve got a name worth stating make sure to comment it below.

On to discussing the business side of the big location switch is the all important division shuffle. As of right now Gary Bettman, the commissioner, has stated that the Winnipeg No-Names will be playing in the southeast division for the upcoming season. This being purely based on the fact that it was a late deal and scheduling has already been done.

Next year however, the proposed division shuffle as stated by TSN and therefore, the most likely to happen, is the following:

  • The Winnipeg No-Names will move to the Northwest division;
  • The Colorado Avalanche will move out of the Northwest to the Pacific division;
  • The Dallas Stars will move out of the Pacific and the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference and Southeast Division.

Final Format
Northwest: Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Minnesota, Winnipeg
Pacific: San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix, Colorado
Central: No-Change
Northeast: No-Change
Atlantic: No-Change
Southeast: Washington, Florida, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Dallas

Having first heard this I couldn’t help but feel there has to be a better alternative. Many fans on forums and message boards have been making the case for the Detroit Red Wings to be moved to the eastern conference. To be Frank (and not Matt, that’s right I made a joke), I have to disagree. Although I see the merit in moving the Wings to the East both skill-wise and geographically, the domino-effect it will have on the other divisions simply does not work.

The proposed Detroit division shuffle:

  • Detroit would move to the East and would play either in the Northeast division, or in the Atlantic division all would be similar except Boston would remain in Northeast;
  • Boston would be moved to the Atlantic;
  • Philadelphia would be moved to the Southeast;
  • Minnesota would move to the Central;
  • Winnipeg would then reside in the Northwest.

Final Format:
Northwest: Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Colorado, Winnipeg.
Pacific: No Change
Central: Chicago, St Louis, Columbus, Nashville, Minnesota
Northeast: Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Buffalo, Detroit
Atlantic: New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Boston (or Detroit with Boston staying in Northeast),
Southeast: Washington, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Florida, Philadelphia

Whichever the NHL decides to do it remains a tough call. It seems either way at least one team is going to have to travel more than the others and get the proverbial short end of the hockey stick. Maybe if Phoenix moves to Quebec City, Portland or Seattle like I would like to see it might be easier. But as I’ve put it so many times before, that is another article for another day.

Matt Reed
Writer for The Reed Review, The Checking Line, Hockey Independent and Inside Hockey


Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

Mike Illitch has kept his mouth shut for a long time and played by the rules. Now he has to take Bettman by the balls (if he has any) and let him know he means business. I'd love to see DET in the East, but it probably won't happen.

George Prax's picture

I think the NHL wants to keep things as simple as possible, so the second scenario is out of the question. Too many changes, too many things to handle at the same time, so I don't think that's happening. The Wings obviously have the most clout and they want to move, but the truth is, moving them causes too many problems. Boston moving to the Atlantic hurts its rivalries with Montreal and Toronto. Philly out of the Atlantic hurts it's rivalries with New York and especially Pittsburgh. And I'm sorry I know they still have Chicago and Nashville, but I don't like the look of that Central division at all for some reason.

Your first scenario is interesting, but I'm not sure I like Dallas in the southeast although that sets up some interesting matches between then and Washington and Carolina. I'd rather see Nashville down there, with Minnesota moving to the Central and Winnipeg to the Northwest. To me that's the simplest solution.

Unfortunately the two teams that need a move the most are the Jackets and Wings, but to me it just doesn't work out.

Owen Durkin's picture

I'm sure the league will avoid re-alignment until PHO has been moved, and possibly one of the FLA franchises. Re: Winnipeg names, in honour of the Jets, and the longstanding tradition of aviation in the
'Peg, I like the Winnipeg Airmen.

George Prax's picture
BlueAndWhiteBubble wrote:

I'm sure the league will avoid re-alignment until PHO has been moved, and possibly one of the FLA franchises. Re: Winnipeg names, in honour of the Jets, and the longstanding tradition of aviation in the
'Peg, I like the Winnipeg Airmen.

I didn't say it, but I have a feeling that this is why they didn't re-align the divisions this year. Phoenix basically only has a year left and I think that even then Bettman will give up, so they might just be waiting for another city to make a pitch. At the same time, I'm starting to lose hope that QC will get a team. But I still have a feeling either Phoenix's or potentially Florida's move had something to do with that.

And I really like Winnipeg Airmen

Hockeybroad's picture

Think it's most likely:

Winnipeg to NW
Wild to Central
Nashville to SE (possibly Columbus, because nobody in the Central really feels there's a "rivalry" with CBJ; but more likely, NSH)

Simplest, and least amount of shuffling, although the Dallas to SE is a pretty interesting concept as well; think this is the first time I've seen that suggested. Also brings back the old MN/CHI rivalry, which a lot of ppl would like to see renewed via divisional competition.

Rob McGowan's picture

Can't say I agree with Phili not being in the Atlantic Division and Detroit taking their spot. I could see Columbus or Nashville moving to the Eastern Conference before a switch like Detroit. To what Division? I can't say I am sure.

Greg Duley's picture

As a Nashville fan, i wouldn't mind seeing the Preds move the the SE. They have good rivals in the central but a change may be good for the team, especially going against Was and TB and getting some national coverage in there.
But the Dallas to the SE is also very intriguing, but i dont see it happening.

George Prax's picture

I think the problem with Dallas tot he SE is that they're in a different time zone. I shouldn't complain about time zones seeing as there are 3 or 4 different ones in the Western Conference, lol, but having 14 teams in EST and 1 team that isn't would be a little weird and a little hard to justify to broadcasters I think.