My mother (Hi Mom!) always says that there are generally two ways to do things: The easy way, and the right way. On the subject of realignment and our hope that the Dallas Stars have embarked upon their last journey through the Pacific Division, talk is picking up that the NHL might be leaning toward the former.
TSN's Bob McKenzie had some interesting thoughts to share on the subject last night and EJ Hradek had a post last week on NHL.com that seemed to agree: The realignment plan may not be what the Dallas Stars want.
From McKenzie's Twitter account...
More and more NHL governors convinced DET will be moving to SE Div in Eastern Conference when realignment done in early December.
If DET goes to SE (East), it's plausible and possible WPG could take DET's place in Central Div (West). Realignment would be done.
The simple one for one swap is already garnering criticisms of "too easy" and even "lazy" around the internet. A move like that would be perfect for Detroit, who would then have nearly every game in their preferred Eastern time zone. It would be perfect for the Winnipeg Jets, who would enjoy Central time starts in the Central Division.
It wouldn't be that great for everyone else. It would take away sellout crowds from Western Conference teams that need them and give them to Eastern Conference teams (OK, Florida would love them...) that on the whole, do not. Could Columbus or Nashville not benefit just as much, or more, from such a move to the Southeast? Does Detroit flying directly over the struggling Blue Jacket franchise to get to a Tampa Bay road game help the league out more? Don't forget the Wild, who want into the Central badly as well.
The Red Wings haven't exactly languished in the Central with their Stanley Cups and short flights to Chicago, Columbus, St. Louis and Nashville.
Additionally, and quite selfishly, are the Dallas Stars forever doomed to 9:30pm road starts for division games?
Continued after the jump...
The Stars have made no sentiments known officially about their geographic and temporal quandary that we're aware of, but word often trickles in from the national media (like McKenize) and even Razor's twitter account on occasion that a move to the Central (or even the East, if you want to get crazy) is what they would really, really like.
Remember that crazy finish in Phoenix on March 1st last year when Jamie Benn scored the PP goal with four seconds remaining, or did you go to sleep? Or the incredible come from behind, overtime victory in Los Angeles a week later? Or did you have an early meeting?
An organization like this one that has a presumed season ticket holder base of 6,000~ needs exposure, and Staples Center overtime enders don't help on that front when the post game show kicks off at 12:09am in DFW.
In mid-July word was leaked that the NHL was considering a two conference, four divisions (total) alignment that could see the Stars move to a division of seven or eight teams that were more "centrally" located. This would-be division might have contained Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago, Minnesota, Nashville, Winnipeg, and one of either Detroit or Columbus.
Other scenarios involved putting the Jets in the Northwest, moving a Central Division team to the East (Nashville, Columbus or Detroit), moving the Stars to the Central and putting the Avalanche in the Pacific. This would, in theory, make the most overall sense on the fronts of tv start times and travel arrangements, and everyone would be happy.
EJ Hradek thinks one of the reasons why this won't happen is that a division with four Canadian teams would be just too much...
If the Canucks kept their current spot in the Northwest, the Jets might be moved into the Central in a straight swap (with the Wings or Predators filling the vacancy in the Southeast). The reason for that is simple: I don't believe the League sees any sense in having a division consisting of four Canadian-based clubs and only one American-based team. I think that would be a hard sell to the Avs or Wild -- the U.S. teams that would be faced with that option.
We've heard all along that the Canucks, Flames and Oilers would like to keep the existing rivalries they've cultivated over the years, and that Vancouver would be resistant to a move to the Pacific.
Ultimately it will all be put up for a vote, and two thirds is needed to make the changes. The entire Eastern Conference will benefit from the Detroit Red Wings joining it, and the opposition from the few clubs in the West that desperately need some changed to help their clubs may not be enough, in theory, to derail it if this is the way they're leaning.
The real wild card in the proceedings and a potential source of hesitance to make sweeping changes is the Phoenix Coyotes, whose future in Glendale is uncertain to say the least. Realignment of some kind will happen for the 2012-2013 season. The question is whether they'll have to do it again the next year to accommodate a team in Quebec, for example.
Either way it looks like the Stars could be stuck where they are, if these reports are accurate. We'll know more in December when the league is expected to make significant progress in this area.