Skip to content

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

Jul 7, 2011, 3:26 PM EDT

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. Flyers’ Mason broke his right pinky finger playing ball hockey

    Jul 31, 2014, 7:39 PM EDT

    Philadelphia Flyers v Florida Panthers Getty Images

    The team estimates he’ll miss two weeks of on-ice training.

  2. Stars sign Glennie to one-year, two-way deal

    Jul 31, 2014, 6:43 PM EDT

    Alex Chiasson, Jack Campbell, Scott Glennie, Lindy Ruff AP

    The former first-rounder still needs to prove himself.

  3. #Hartnelldown makes it to Columbus

    Jul 31, 2014, 5:18 PM EDT

    Scott Hartnell, Steve Mason AP

    The forward is already endearing himself to Blue Jackets fans.

  4. Sens assistant GM is ‘confident we are a playoff team’

    Jul 31, 2014, 3:54 PM EDT

    lehnerandygetty Getty Images

    Ottawa’s offseason is receiving mixed reviews.

  5. It’s back! PHT’s Team of the Day summer series starts tomorrow

    Jul 31, 2014, 10:51 AM EDT

    2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five Getty Images

    Beginning with the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. Click for the full 30-team schedule.

  6. Sens agree with Lehner on three-year, $6.675 million contract

    Jul 31, 2014, 9:51 AM EDT

    Robin Lehner AP

    Went 12-15-6 with a .913 save percentage last season for Ottawa.

  7. Price (knee) won’t start skating ’til mid-August

    Jul 31, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Carey Price AP

    But he also won’t require surgery.

  8. 1st-rounders Vrana (Caps), Pastrnak (B’s) highlight Czech WJC team

    Jul 30, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

    2014 NHL Draft - Round 1 Getty Images

    They’ll face off against Canada and Russia at a tournament in Toronto next week.

  9. Report: New Jersey re-signs Timmins

    Jul 30, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

    St. Louis Blues v Florida Panthers St. Louis Blues v Florida Panthers

    Acquired last season in exchange for Krys Barch.

  10. Agent: Subban hasn’t told me to make him NHL’s highest-paid D

    Jul 30, 2014, 6:28 PM EDT

    PK Subban Getty Images

    “We haven’t approached it in that respect.”

  11. NHL hit with another concussion lawsuit

    Jul 30, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    bettmangetty Getty Images

    This time, it features just one plaintiff — former Bruin Jon Rohloff.

  12. Devils sign Greene to five-year, $25M extension

    Jul 30, 2014, 4:34 PM EDT

    New York Islanders v New Jersey Devils Getty Images

    Alternate captain notched a career-high in goals last year.

  13. Contract talks stalled between Kuemper, Wild

    Jul 30, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Darcy Kuemper AP

    “Usually this isn’t the time to fight for the big contract.”

Top 10 NHL Player Searches