Well, the board of governors met today and league realignment has been completed. Speculation said we'd either see a swap of the Red Wings and the Jets or a new radical four conference format. The winner, by a 26-4 vote, wast he four conference format.
These are the proposed conferences that leaked this past weekend and will indeed be the way the league is now formatted. Every team will play a home-and-home with the rest league and the remaining games will occur within the division. The current Central Division will be kept intact, but Dallas, Winnipeg, and Minnesota will be added. This will help alleviate the travel for the Stars and WIld and give the Jets a new home away from the sunshine of Florida and Carolina.
For the playoffs, the top four teams in each conference will qualify and face off against each other. For example, let's take the top four teams listed in the Wings' conference. You would have #1 vs #4 and #2 vs #3. So we'd see Detroit vs Minnesota and Chicago vs St. Louis. The two winning teams would then face off and decide the conference champion.
The conference champions will be re-seeded based on regular season records. So we could see Detroit vs Montreal and San Jose vs Pittsburgh and eventually a Detroit vs San Jose Stanley Cup Final. Essentially, Detroit could play any team for the Cup except those in it's own conference.
Quite frankly, I don't mind this move at all. I was one of the few people that didn't mind a Wings for Jets swap and them playing in the Southeast, but I don't think many really thought that would happen. This move doesn't necessarily help the Wings as much as a straight up move to the East, but it helps the most people. And when you actually think about it, the East as we know it doesn't even exist anymore. This plan also gives the league an easy fix if the Coyotes move eastward, like to Quebec City. You can easily put them in the Bruins' conference since some have seven teams and others have eight.
The Wings will no longer have to travel out west twice anymore. Most all the division games will still be an hour later than normal, but, personally, who cares if it's 7:30p ET, 8pET or 8:30p ET? Travel will be greatly reduced for the Wings, Blue Jackets, Wild, Jets, and Stars. Travel will be increased for the former East teams, but they also get the benefit of having the Wings fill their arenas once per year. The new home-and-home format guarantees that we will see the Maple Leafs, Bruins, Rangers, and Canadiens twice a year and at the Joe every season. More games with the Original Six the better.
As far as the playoffs go, the Wings will be seeing a lot of the same teams over-and-over again. Great for building rivalries as rivalries always seem to grow the most thanks to postseason battles. Of course, we could get bored seeing the Predators and Blackhawks again-and-again every year. I like the idea of re-seeding the conference champions after the first two rounds of the playoffs. It just opens up the possibilities to so many more potential match ups.
And who knows, maybe we'll get rid of the geographical names for each conference. The Wings could be in the Howe Confernece, the far west teams could be the Gretzky Conference, the northeast/Florida teams could be the Orr Conference, and the atlantic teams could be called the Lemieux Conference.
At the end of it all, life right now is much better for the Wings than it was this morning. More Original Six games, less travel, and built up rivalries with those teams in our own conference.
Let's Go Red Wings.