Skip to content

Did Wild owner Craig Leipold spill the beans on new division alignment?

Jul 7, 2011, 3:26 PM EST

Dale Tallon, Craig Leipold, Jim Rutherford Getty Images

The NHL’s plans to realign the divisions next year and go to a new layout for the way the league is set up is an issue that’s got a lot of fans imaginations captured. After all, with the wants of three teams to move east in Columbus, Detroit, and Nashville as well as the need to get Winnipeg out of the Southeast Division, sprucing things up makes a world of sense.Of course, it’ll be tricky for the NHL to get things together in a way that will make everyone happy and while the talk of doing a balanced schedule will help make things a bit more even, laying teams out geographically helps the divisional layout.

While no one at the NHL is tipping their hand as to how things will go, luckily Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold took to the airwaves today on KFAN in Minneapolis on the Paul Allen Show with Kevin Gorg and very well may have tipped off for how the new Central Division will be laid out and how some of these new things will play out. (audio here, skip to 21 minute mark)

“Our division would include the Winnipeg Jets, us, the Blues, the Nashville Predators, the Dallas Stars, Chicago Blackhawks, and maybe the Columbus Blue Jackets… maybe not depending on if they go east or west. I am all in favor of that. I think that is a grand slam, home run, hat trick for our team.”

With that kind of divisional lay out that means we’ll see the Detroit Red Wings somewhere else. We’ll also see them separated from the Blackhawks. The decision over whether or not to send Columbus to the East is also up in the air with this layout. Nashville too seems to be getting worked over as well. The one difference here being that, without Columbus, the entire division exists in the Central time zone.

“We’re all Central Division now. All of our teams, except for Columbus, all of our teams will be Central Division. We’ll play less teams in Canada. We will play every team home and away at least one time.”

There’s the confirmation on the balanced schedule. No longer will it be up to a few years between visits from some teams in other conferences. That set up makes a lot more sense because it means getting the guaranteed one visit a year for Western teams from the likes of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, and Steve Stamkos among others. Bringing the big stars to all the fans only makes good business sense.

As for how Leipold feels about being aligned with Winnipeg, he couldn’t be more excited. Oh yeah, he’s pretty fired up about the old Norris Division tie-ins too. There’s also a bittersweet slip of the tongue too.

“Everybody’s talking about it. We’d love to have Winnipeg. It’s a natural rivalry for us. The closest team in the NHL [for us] is Winnipeg. We’d love to have them in that division. I think with Chicago and St. Louis the old North Star divi… I mean Norris Division. Come on… How much fun is that?”

Hey, North Star Division would sound great to us just so long as the other divisions were named after defunct teams. Let’s just make sure they’re named after teams that have no chance of being resurrected in the future. Sorry Nordiques Division.

Of course with the Central Division mostly figured out, where do the rest of the teams go? Well, the Pacific Division and Western Conference seems to have itself figured out already.

Potential Central Division
Chicago
Columbus*
Dallas
Minnesota
Nashville
St. Louis
Winnipeg

Potential Pacific Division
Anaheim
Calgary
Colorado
Edmonton
Los Angeles
Phoenix
San Jose
Vancouver

That’s 15 teams in the conference with one division having seven teams and the other with eight, fitting what we’d learned before. Columbus being the “maybe” team there means that perhaps there’s discussion on whether or not it’ll be Columbus or Detroit that stays in the Central. No disrespect to either Columbus or Detroit, but that Central Division has a lot more “oomph” to it with Detroit there.

If that layout stays that way, however, that leaves the Eastern Conference with Boston, Buffalo, Carolina, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Toronto, and Washington. Figuring out a way to lay that out in a geographically sound way will be tricky with Carolina and the Florida teams being outliers. Perhaps something that’s more map-friendly would work out. Here’s our silly suggestion that borrows a bit from the ACC:

Possible Atlantic Division
Boston
Florida
New Jersey
NY Islanders
NY Rangers
Philadelphia
Tampa Bay
Washington

Possible Mid-Atlantic Division
Buffalo
Carolina
Detroit
Montreal
Ottawa
Pittsburgh
Toronto

Our thinking here being that all the teams along the extreme east coast will all stick together and all the teams that find themselves a bit further out from the ocean can be piled up together. Mind you, this is a totally silly idea, but given the disproportionate difference between teams in the north and south the proposed idea to do a Northeast and South division might not work out.

All we know is that the Mid-Atlantic Division would be a bloodbath with the three Canadian teams, renewed Original Six wars with Detroit against Toronto and Montreal, and the Wings getting to play Pittsburgh more than a few times per year. Let that hate flow anew. Of course, if Detroit and Columbus swapped spots there, it’s still intriguing but potentially brutal for the Jackets.

We don’t know for sure that Leipold’s take on the Central Division is true and we won’t know until something is announced later on, but he sounded awfully convinced that this was how things would shake out and being that he’s an owner, he’s privy to that kind of information. Speculate away and see if you can come up with better ideas than these.

(Major thanks to PHT reader and commenter “whatagreatfootballmind” for the tip)

Latest Posts
  1. Five team stats you may find interesting

    Jan 28, 2015, 3:02 PM EST

    Mike Richards, Michael Hutchinson AP

    The Los Angeles Kings are bad at the shootout, and the Buffalo Sabres are good at it.

  2. Goalie nods: Slumping Bernier back in for Leafs

    Jan 28, 2015, 2:15 PM EST

    Jonathan Bernier AP

    News and notes from around the crease…

  3. Isles’ Clutterbuck latest to be fined for diving

    Jan 28, 2015, 1:51 PM EST

    Montreal Canadiens v New York Islanders Getty Images

    An incident against Philly on Jan. 19 was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

  4. Sabres GM bemoans ‘very, very quiet’ trade market

    Jan 28, 2015, 1:39 PM EST

    Buffalo Sabres v New York Rangers Getty Images

    Chris Stewart remains a member of the worst team in the NHL.

  5. Devils to celebrate 20th anniversary of first Stanley Cup title

    Jan 28, 2015, 1:11 PM EST

    The Stanley Cup-NJ Devils, on Letterman Getty Images

    “That was a team with tremendous character, with great coaches, great players and quality individuals. “

  6. Report: No punishment for Emelin after boarding Spezza

    Jan 28, 2015, 12:51 PM EST

    Jason Spezza Jason Spezza

    Habs’ d-man was tossed from Tuesday night’s game.

  7. No hearing scheduled for Kesler after ‘dirty play’ on Dorsett

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:52 AM EST

    Anaheim Ducks v Vancouver Canucks Anaheim Ducks v Vancouver Canucks

    “It shouldn’t be a part of hockey,” said Canucks captain Henrik Sedin.

  8. Why NHL fans — no matter where they live — should care about the plunging Canadian dollar

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:51 AM EST

    money money

    Could be bad news. Could be good. All depends who you cheer for.

  9. Welcome Matt Bartkowski to the trade rumor mill

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:33 AM EST

    Buffalo Sabres v Boston Bruins Getty Images

    Boston d-man has struggled this season, but could be on the move by Mar. 2.

  10. NHL on NBCSN: Faltering Kings face rival Blackhawks

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:17 AM EST

    Drew Doughty, Patrick Sharp Drew Doughty, Patrick Sharp

    Los Angeles is currently out of the West’s top eight.

  11. Sabres lift Zadorov suspension

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:16 AM EST

    Buffalo Sabres v Tampa Bay Lightning Buffalo Sabres v Tampa Bay Lightning

    “Show up to your job, and you’re off suspension.”

  12. Canucks’ Dorsett suffers upper body injury in loss to the Ducks

    Jan 28, 2015, 1:45 AM EST

    Derek Dorsett Getty Images

    Vancouver has now been shutout in back-to-back home games.

  13. Letang’s five assists help the Pens past the Jets

    Jan 28, 2015, 1:00 AM EST

    Kris Letang Getty Images

    Pittsburgh was without Crosby and Malkin.

Featured video

Who will excite most in All-Star game?
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. S. Crosby (3649)
  2. E. Malkin (3636)
  3. K. Letang (3541)
  4. S. Bobrovsky (2976)
  5. P. Hornqvist (2654)
  1. C. Price (2569)
  2. T. Johnson (2366)
  3. P. Rinne (2150)
  4. J. Ortio (2011)
  5. M. Richards (1879)