Potential NHL Realignment Would Likely Wait a Year For Stars

It's not like the Dallas Stars haven't won the Central before.

It happens at Defending Big D every time the Dallas Stars begin a game after 9:00pm CDT local time: Someone says "When are they going to move the Stars to the Central already??"

A familiar chorus of "probably never" and "yeah right" accompany indifference to what feels like a fantasy but ownership turmoil (what's that like?) in the league has presented multiple avenues to make that dream a reality recently, but speculation yesterday turned against it happening. At least next season.

TSN's NHL insider Darren Dreger commented yesterday that if the Thrashers do move they'll likely stay in the Southeast Division next year and any divisional realignment wouldn't come until the summer of 2012, giving the Phoenix Coyotes time for another years' worth of tap dancing and multi-million dollar losses to work out their scene.

So your dream of cutting Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose visits from nine to six next year will have to wait, but experts agree that Dallas to the Central is an actual real-life possibility that could have legs whenever the decision finally does get made.

From the Dreger Report...

It's widely believed that Winnipeg - at some point - will eventually find a home in the Northwest Division, Colorado will jump to the Pacific Division and replace Dallas - who would celebrate the long-anticipated move to the Central and occupy the void left by either Nashville or Columbus. And that assumes Detroit is, as Red Wings executives say, staying put next season.[Check out the whole thing here.]

Why Colorado is the automatic, no-brainer for the Pacific over Vancouver is a mystery to me, because most of this seems to be about time zones (and tv ratings) but there you have it.

Still, wouldn't it be a little off leaving the Pacific behind? Sure, it might be better for viewership but rivalries with the Ducks and Sharks in recent years have flourished and even the Coyotes have become hated foes. Visits to the vaunted Staples Center would decrease by one, however, and that is comforting thought.

Visits to the Joe would increase and Stars' ticket salesmen would get to market an additional Wings, Hawks and Blues game per year, helping attendance in the most annoying of ways. Either Columbus or Nashville would be the ones bolting for the East and two trips a year to Winnipeg would, in reality, actually stretch the Stars mileage traveled for the year.

For Stars fans the possibility of a move to the Central presents a plethora of considerations, not the least of which should be their 14-5-1 record against the Wings, Preds, Blues, BJ's and Hawks last season. Mostly it just seems like common sense, but next summer is a long time to wait. Anything can happen between now and then.

Remember, the last two years the Stars played in the Central Division (1996-1997, 1997-1998 they were Division Champs)

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