With the announcement that Evander Kane and the Atlanta Thrashers will be relocating to Winnipeg, there are two things that people want to know: what will the seventh Canadian team be called, and 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 the new generation to the old, I have to play the devil’s advocate here.
Speaking from the perspective of the owner of the team, naming them the Jets could very well result in lower revenue, and 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 favorite suggestion that I’ve heard so far other than the Jets, is the Winnipeg Rebels, with the 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 NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has stated that the Winnipeg No-Names will be playing in the Southeast division for the upcoming season. This being based primarily due to 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.
Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Minnesota
San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix, Colorado
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
Winnipeg, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Colorado
Chicago, Minnesota, St Louis, Columbus, Nashville
Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Buffalo, Detroit
Boston (or Detroit with Boston staying in Northeast), New York, New York, Pittsburgh, New Jersey
Washington, Philadelphia, Carolina, Tampa Bay Florida
Whichever way the NHL decides to go, 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.
Writer for The Reed Review, The Checking Line, Hockey Independent and Inside Hockey