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Dreger: 50-50 chance players support realignment proposal

Feb 28, 2013, 9:57 AM EDT

R.J. Umberger #18 of the Columbus Blue Jackets screens Jimmy Howard #35 of the Detroit Red Wings as James Wisniewski #21 of the Columbus Blue Jackets scores a power play goal with a shot from the blue line during the first period on February 2, 2013 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Getty Images

The Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings will finally be making the move from the Western to Eastern Conference, if the most recently reported realignment plan is accepted.

However, nothing has been decided yet and their ambition to play in the Eastern Conference might run into a roadblock.

The players aren’t happy that the Eastern Conference would have 16 teams while the Western Conference only has 14, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.

That imbalance would make it easier to for Western Conference teams to make the playoffs, and some would like to see it solved by moving either the Detroit Red Wings or Columbus Blue Jackets back to the Western Conference.

“Told it’s 50-50 at the moment as to whether or not PA approves realignment proposal,” Dreger said. “NHL will push hard to get it through as is.”

It’s not as simple as keeping Columbus in the West though. If the players and league attempt to do that, the Blue Jackets would “fight like hell” to prevent it, according to the Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline.

“From a Blue Jackets’ perspective, playing the majority of our games in the eastern time zone would be beneficial from a travel perspective … and (for) our television and radio broadcasts,” said Blue Jackets president Mike Priest in a Columbus Dispatch report.

Keeping the Blue Jackets in the West but letting Detroit move would cost Columbus the big attraction of regular games against the Red Wings without gaining more favorable travel times in the process.

If you need a refresher on what the current plan is, we have all the details here.

  1. faceoff77 - Feb 28, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    The problem is that NOBODY wants Columbus.

  2. polegojim - Feb 28, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    Faceoff is right… Columbus is to NHL what the Cardinals and Browns are to the NFL.

    Don’t understand how Columbus failed to build a team around Nash for YEARS… then not much different in all they traded him for… crazy and perennial ineptitude…

    That said… I don’t believe ‘realignment’ should even be a PA issue nor require the PA ‘support’… players are employees… highly talented… but employees nonetheless..

    • davebabychreturns - Feb 28, 2013 at 10:21 AM

      They unionized so they could have a say around the conditions of their employment.

      Doing things like substantially changing the travel schedules for a number of teams or much more importantly, arbitrarily making it tougher for some players to get into the playoffs (where they get huge opportunities to increase their value and earning potential, look no further than Joel Ward) impacts this.

      I like the direction these realignment talks are headed in (the playoff format still needs work) so I am hoping the players just roll over go with the flow on this… but it’s pretty clear why they are trying to exercise some degree of authority on this.

      (There’s also the political aspect of it, I think last time around the players kiboshed the realignment plan just to show that they could and that the league couldn’t push them around.. hopefully that’s less of a factor this time.)

      • tmoore4075 - Feb 28, 2013 at 10:39 AM

        I agree I think a lot of it was crap the last time out. They were just making a point. The last plan was better for the league as a whole and for the future of the league I thought. Left room for expansion in the East and lessened the travel burden for both Detroit and Columbus while at the same time Minnesota and Dallas as well. Those teams are forgotten a lot in this. Wild don’t belong in the NW and Dallas doesn’t belong in the Pacific.

        What should really happen…Go with the alignment you had planned for before with Detroit and CBJ in the Midwest. Then expand to Markham and Quebec. I don’t like the idea of expansion but that’s how you make it even without pissing too many people off.

      • greatminnesotasportsmind - Feb 28, 2013 at 11:19 AM

        Your right, the Wild don’t belong in the northwest. Here’s a fact for you, Winnipeg who plays in the Southeast and has division road games in Tampa and Florida log less travel than Minnesota does.

      • yourmomcantspell - Feb 28, 2013 at 2:07 PM

        The playoffs are the main drawback I see when looking towards realignment. I wish the top 8 from both the east and west made it and kept the same format as the playoffs now. Hockey playoffs are the most intense competition in professional sports and I don’t see the reason to mess with a good formula. I have a feeling that the rivalries will get old, especially if the same 4 or 5 teams make it year after year. I would suggest to let all teams play equally among their respective conference and let it sort itself out.

    • thailer35 - Feb 28, 2013 at 10:37 AM

      You mean the Cardinals who went to and almost won the Superbowl a few years ago?

      You clearly know what you’re talking about.

      • polegojim - Mar 1, 2013 at 9:39 AM

        Seriously? Sorry to hurt your feelings… it’s just a fact.

        I don’t dislike hte Cards…they CAN’T keep it together and have become a stereo-type for ineptitude.

        FIRED the head coach who helped them get there… last year… why was that? 5-11 / 8-8 / 5-11

        where running backs and quarterbacks go to retire and round out their career…

        who practice ‘retreading’ more than GoodYear

        Had a couple flashes in 70 years…

        Maintains a healthy head coaching carousel trying to find answers as if it were a religion…

  3. jpelle82 - Feb 28, 2013 at 10:17 AM

    yeah i dont think its fair…older players/free agents who want a cup to ride off into the sunset with (bourque comes to mind) might be more inclined to take a deal from a team in the west because there’s a better prospect of making the playoffs. we all know anything can happen once youre in, getting in is gonna get harder and more contentious in the east, which in no way is fair to anyone.

    • jpelle82 - Feb 28, 2013 at 10:20 AM

      playing field should be as level as you can make it – thats where the PA comes in…its a bigger picture than just the interest of one or two teams – its an interest of players and their decision making as well

      • tmoore4075 - Feb 28, 2013 at 10:31 AM

        Than the PA shouldn’t have shot down the proposal last year. While it was “uneven” then as well it was probably the best for everyone while not pissing off Detroit and/or Columbus. Also left the door open for expansion to Markham and Quebec City.

        As I have said in my post below, it’s hard to move one and not the other. Columbus should be in the East for a lot of reasons and Detroit should too but for different reasons.

      • jpelle82 - Feb 28, 2013 at 10:49 AM

        yeah i guess the reason they shot it down before was because they didnt have any input in it, which is pretentious at best, but now the league is kinda forcing their hand and they are gonna get stuck approving something at this point. from a players persective, i dont think they should care so much about the division realignment or the rivalry ramifications of it as much as they should be concerned with their money and opportunity to get it. hard to lure a guy to a team like lets say a carolina where they are consistently on a bubble 8th or 9th spot when a team in the west could get the same guy because there is a better chance of making that 8th spot for the same money.

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Feb 28, 2013 at 3:04 PM

      If anything, I’ll argue the west will be harder. You could play better teams more often in the west. For instance, you could play Minnesota, Chicago, and St. Louis as opposed to 3 random teams in the east.

  4. tmoore4075 - Feb 28, 2013 at 10:25 AM

    First, the schedule proposal will help either Detroit or Columbus if they were to stay in the new Midwest Division. It would cut their games in the far west in half. They currently travel to Phoenix, California, Vancouver and Alberta twice a year. Under this proposal they would only be going to those places once each. Those games would be replaced by division games or games against the East. So while being in the East is better still, the Midwest wouldn’t be HORRIBLE.

    However, the wild card playoff thing could possibly take away the advantage of divisional playoffs. If Detroit or Columbus (yeah right) were #1 in the Midwest and the Pacific Division was going to have 5 teams in the playoffs Detroit or Columbus would play either the 4th or 5th team from the Pacific depending on their record(s). I’m sure Detroit didn’t like that idea because while they didn’t like the regular season schedule it was the playoffs they hated more for travel and for start times for their fans.

    I know people will say Columbus should go East cause they could use it but Detroit has earned it. Close to 30 years in the West and since they went to the 1-8 playoff format in 94 have played like 26 different playoff series against team in Mountain timezone or Pacific. Jackets…let’s just say have not. Illitch was also a good soldier during both lockouts, especially 04-05. He didn’t need and probably didn’t want the cap since he liked to spend but he went along with it.

    It’s hard to move one and not the other. I’m interested to see how this plays out. Imagine if the Coyotes move to Quebec. Then Detroit and Columbus would need to move back to even things out to 15/15.

    • comeonnowguys - Feb 28, 2013 at 1:11 PM

      I could not agree more with your first two paragraphs.

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Feb 28, 2013 at 2:16 PM

      As a Wild fan, I’d kill for only going to Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary only twice a year. In a normal season we go there 3 or 4 times a year. Plus a trip out to San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. Detroit has it easier than they do.

      • clefty1 - Feb 28, 2013 at 2:57 PM

        The Wings cross three time zones to get to the west coast.

      • tmoore4075 - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:32 PM

        Wild have it bad for sure. So do the Stars. The thing for the Wings, and me and many fans, is the playoffs though. I’m fine not being able to stay up for the late games a few times a season. Playoff time though, those 10pm or 10:30pm starts suck big time. That’s why I was fine with last years proposal. Yeah they didn’t get the East but schedule got better with less West and more East and the latest start time for a road playoff game would probably be 8:30. That’s why if they stick with this wild card idea I don’t want them in the Midwest. Like I said above they could still end up in California for round 1. Been a fan for 20 years and it’s starting to get a little old.

        I still feel last years proposal was better for everyone. Helped the Wings, Jackets, Stars, Jets and Wild. Made playoffs travel and start times better and left room for changes if needed. IE Coyotes move to Seattle or Quebec and then expand to Markham and to whichever city didn’t get the Coyotes. I have a feeling realignment will be addressed in a few years again regardless of how this plays itself out.

  5. ironyisadeadscene - Feb 28, 2013 at 10:32 AM

    It’s more like the East will have 15 teams (sorry Columbus) that have a chance at making the playoffs and the West would have 14…suck it up East, you are getting Detroit.

  6. tfaltin - Feb 28, 2013 at 10:32 AM

    The re-alignment should be geographic in my eyes. The 15 most Western teams and the 15 most Eastern teams. If they want to expand to 32 as a league they can enter one in each conference like the NFL did with Jacksonville and Carolina. If I were the NHL and I wanted to expand I would like to keep a door open to expand in the Northeast anyway.

  7. sjsharks66 - Feb 28, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    *cough* move columbus *cough*

  8. dutchman1350 - Feb 28, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    The time zone change is the biggest issue. For teams in the EST playing a bunch of games that start at 10, 10:30pm, is not right for their fans, or local businesses. Restaurants and bars would get more people out, and kids can actually view away games. That is how you build fans (and winning).

  9. mclovinhockey - Feb 28, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    So break up the hawks and wings rivalry by moving the most historic team in the west with the biggest name in the west over to the east.
    Make the west less competitive by eliminating the best team over there and make the fans less interested from the west because there will be a lot fewer stats in the west.

    There is nothing about these proposals that are helping make sure the NHL will not be in more trouble next lock out.

  10. lovac2 - Feb 28, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    If Phoenix ends up in Seattle and they get teams in Quebec or Toronto, then another team or teams will have to go back West anyway. So, sooner or later, Detroit and Columbus could be going back west, so why even go to eastern conference now.

  11. wingz101 - Feb 28, 2013 at 12:11 PM

    Why is there even an issue? Detroit and Columbus are Eastern Teams. Both of them, Detroit more, have suffered tremendously because of extended travel and terrible start time for televised away games. It’s time to fix that.

    The great trade off is the Western teams will finally get to see some of the major stars on a regular basis through the revived home and home. Crosby, Giroux, Malkin, Chara, Karlsson, Oveckin. The Habs, Rangers, Bruins, Leafs … you lose 3 Red Wing games you added a ton of better games and variety. It’s really a no brainer.

    And consider this. The Coyotes are likely to endure forever. Bettman has pretty much made that clear. However a team that is much worse, the Florida Panther could easily fold and move to Seattle evening out the divisons. That to me is a more likely scenario than the Coyotes moving.

    Quebec isn’t ready for a team but when the NHL does expand there, they will just need to find another Western location to join at the same time. Anyone who thinks the Leafs will ever allow another team to set up shop in Markham is nuts.

    • clefty1 - Feb 28, 2013 at 3:00 PM

      Being a Wings fan I sure would like to see fans of other teams have to deal with the late starting regular season and playoff games. I bet they would change their tune real quick.

      • tmoore4075 - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:35 PM

        BINGO! Most of the people who say they should just deal with it, it’s the way it is, are probably fans of Eastern teams who have it pretty good. I’ve been a fan for 20 years having those late playoff games. Pittsburgh or Boston could be done playing an OT game before the Wings were halfway done with the first period in San Jose. Deal with it for just 3 years and I bet those fans change it. Wings have been doing it for a lot longer than that.

  12. comeonnowguys - Feb 28, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    Travel times must be addressed!

    That’s why we are taking nearby Detroit from the Blues and Blackhawks and replacing them with Colorado! It’s ok because St. Louis and Chicago never have start times at 9 p.m. or have games run to midnight.

  13. ussportsfanuk - Feb 28, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    On my plan on my blog I have the Red Wings in the Norris Division with the Blackhawks stil and joined by the Maple Leafs. The scheduling could be done where the Red Wings, despite being in the West, would still play around 58 games in the Eastern time zone and would only have to go West of the Central time zone 14 times a year. It is better explained on my blog.

    I think the NHL may just have to be creative with the scheduling and then teams may be able to find a compromise.

    • ussportsfanuk - Feb 28, 2013 at 1:00 PM

      Slight correction, they would only have to West of the Central time zone 8 times, not 14. Even better!

    • clefty1 - Feb 28, 2013 at 2:53 PM

      Your plan does not solve the late playoff starts (10/10 30)….

      • ussportsfanuk - Feb 28, 2013 at 3:22 PM

        Well they would only play a maximum of 4 games west of the Central time zone in the playoff format I suggested, surely the Red Wings can ope with a maximum 4 games? Also, if they got to the Stanley Cup Final then they would play and Eastern Conference team so no time issues there.

    • pastabelly - Feb 28, 2013 at 3:08 PM

      I don’t really think they are using a map when they put these conferences together.

  14. pastabelly - Feb 28, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    The NHL needs to deal with team movement and/or expansion before settling on these conferences. They might also have to deal with the issue of a second team in Toronto. In any case, Quebec will get a team sooner or later and that conference should remain at 7 until that happens. Moving Detroit there seems like a temporary fix that will create more trouble than it’s worth.

  15. lionstigersandwingsohmy - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    I liked the realignment plan a lot better when it was only 4 divisions, now that the conferences have been reintroduced I don’t like it as much. My reasoning is that without the conference designation, there were 8 more potential opponents for the finals. I hate having Detroit in the west with all the 10:30 start times, but at this point I would be happy with just moving Detroit or Columbus to the east and leaving the format the same. For those of you who say move Nashville, take a look at the map. Nashville is the farthest west of the three that are talked about moving to the east. They are also in the central time zone. Now I have a sugestion to the league, not that they will ever hear it. How about an agreement for start times for eastern and western teams when they play each other. East could start thier games a little later and west a little earlier. I am sure it sucks almost as bad to have your team playing before you get out of work.

  16. dprouse - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    50/50 – now there’s a bold prediction! It reminds me of “Zero Dark Thirty”, when the room full of bureaucrats made their butt-covering “60%” predictions. Thanks for the useful intelligence report, Dregs.

  17. kingsforever - Feb 28, 2013 at 8:27 PM

    BREAKING “they may say yes, they may say no, it’s a maybe”

  18. xjokerz - Mar 1, 2013 at 8:02 AM

    Get over it blue jackets. 1 your team blows 2 the wings have been in the west which Seems forever. Pansy’s

  19. ussportsfanuk - Mar 5, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    Maybe the whole East-West thing needs to be forgotten? I have done a four conference realignment plan on my blog and it seems less of an issue. It also retains all the big rivalries.

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