As the third round of the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs commences the hockey communities collective attention is as much off the ice as it is on. The Phoenix Coyotes narrowly escaped the clutches of Winnipeg for at least one more season full of Dave Tippett's now famous one-man forecheck and cycle but now the Atlanta Thrashers find themselves in an even worse predicament with rumors of their demise and departure reaching a fever pitch with new reports today.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution says they've received confirmation that the Thrashers are indeed negotiating with True North (the ownership group in Winnipeg) though no potential timeline for the move is imminent. The feelings of Atlanta faithful are being pushed aside for the sake of realignment talk which is centering around the Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators and...surprise...the Detroit Red Wings?
While it seems unlikely that the league would want to separate the Wings and Blackhawks, Detroit does have a point being in the Eastern time zone and Stars fans certainly wouldn't mind reducing their visits to the AAC to one or less per year (though the Stars ticket offices would disagree certainly...).
At this point it's hard to say for certain that the move would happen this year. The schedule is supposed to come out in less than a month and any realignment would need to be worked out before then, so their could be a lame duck season in Atlanta before this all comes to a head.
The questions that Stars fans continue to have are "Where does a Winnipeg team fit division-wise, and does that open a spot in the Central?"
- When the Stars do potentially visit Winnipeg on a northern road swing, they might be called the Winnipeg Moose or Manitoba Moose. [Sportslogos.net]
- The Canon lays the whole situation out in exhaustively complete fashion. [The Canon]
- Evidently the Blue Jackets have actually asked the league about a move to the Eastern Conference [Blue Jackets Xtra]
- The Winnipeg Free Press says the league is working on a schedule with Atlanta, and a schedule with Winnipeg (Manitoba). [Winnipeg Free Press]
- Stars news outlets such as ESPN Dallas have to write posts on Hubert Labrie's failed attempt at trying to get into the CHL tournament for the Memorial Cup. We feel Mr. Stepneski's pain. Stars news just isn't happening right now. [ESPN Dallas]
- Some Rangers fans are busy designing a memorial patch for fallen comrade Derek Boogard in wake of the weekends startling events. [New York Rangers Blog]
- Our old undersized friend Chris Conner is under the microscope over at Pensburgh as they start the autopsying and grading of their season. [Pensburgh]
- The Stars published a good piece on soon to be UFA Brandon Segal and his journey last season that included a stint in the AHL due to the financial struggles of the team and the Langenbrunner trade. [Dallasstars.com]
- Dallas Stars fan blog black out Dallas has started taking a look at the draft already and has a couple of prospects in mind for Joe Nieuwendyk. [black out Dallas]