Proposed realignment could send Detroit, Columbus east

Proposed realignment could send Detroit, Columbus east
February 24, 2013, 11:15 am
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The Chicago Blackhawks have long enjoyed an Original Six rivalry that’s featured many matchups per season. But under a new proposed realignment, that could change.

The Blackhawks would be part of a seven-team conference in the West and current Central Division foes Detroit and Columbus would move to the East under the league’s proposed realignment, Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman reported last night. The realignment would feature some big changes, including the Red Wings’ and Blue Jackets’ move.

The Blackhawks’ potential new conference, Friedman reports, would include Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg, which has spent the past season and a half in the Eastern Conference. For teams like Dallas and Minnesota, who have been dealing with far-flung travel in their current divisions, this change would be beneficial.

But with every change, something’s lost. The Blackhawks and Red Wings would no longer be playing the six games per season they do in the current lineup. Yes, according to Friedman, every team in the league will have a home and home with each other, which means the Blackhawks would see other Original Six squads like Montreal, Toronto and the New York Rangers twice a year. But the multiple Blackhawks-Red Wings contests would be gone.

This is the second time in as many seasons the league is attempting realignment. Last year’s proposal was shot down by the NHLPA, who wasn’t happy with the conference balance: two conferences had seven teams each and the other two had eight each. That imbalance is still there in the new plan; the two East conferences have eight teams each. But Friedman reports that a wild-card option is being discussed for those two conferences to even out playoff chances.

The league’s board of governors and the NHLPA would have to approve this realignment for it to be implemented.