OT: Red Wings to Eastern Conference?

Submitted by Mr Mackey on May 13th, 2011 at 12:34 PM

I haven't heard anything about this before just seeing a small rumor on ESPN.

Apparently, if the potential Thrashers move (which Bettman has denied) happens, realignment could bring the Wings to the Eastern Conference. I'm not an insider, so I can't read the story, but that's what the headline says.

 I, for one, would completely support it. Getting to play the Penguins more would make that more of a rivalry, and game times / travel schedule would make the playoffs much easier on the fans and the players. Not to mention, it would probably be an easier path to the finals.

Anyone think this could actually happen?




May 13th, 2011 at 1:01 PM ^

Unless Boston can keep improving, it's not going to happen again soon either. The Leafs and Canadiens are both down, and so are the Rangers. The Hawks had one year where they could keep everyone under the salary cap and this season shows how much their player-auction hurt them. The Wings are the only consistently good Original Six team over the past 10-15 years, and they're even facing the same questions they do every offseason about age and what-not.

Number 7

May 13th, 2011 at 3:24 PM ^

It's pretty rare for any team to be "consistently good . . over the past 10-15 years" -- or consistently bad, for that matter.

Hockey success and failure is actually pretty fluid -- the Wings and the Leafs over the past two decades are really exceptions (opposite ones, at that) to the rule in the entire league.  Recent cup finalists like the Lightning, Devils, Ducks, Avs, Senators, Blackhawks, and even Pittsburgh have missed the playoffs and made the finals over the last 7 years.  Weren't the Lightning close to the worst team last year, and now they're on the doorstep of the Finals?

So I think there is hope for an O-6 finals in the next two years.  Only the Leafs are really a stretch to project in the mix. 

Although, as an East Coast resident, I'd love the opportunity to see more Wings games out here, and I wouldn't miss the Nashville and Columbus "rivalries", I think the league is better served by keeping the Wings in the West.  They are an attendance draw for many weaker drawing western teams, and they do keep alive the O-6 balance.  (In fact, why not move Toronto to the West, too?  That's the Wings rivalry I'd most liek to see revived via more games.)



May 13th, 2011 at 3:29 PM ^

As for being "consistantly good" I mean more along the lines of making the playoffs, making some noise when there and being relevant during the regular season. If you take a look at the Caps or the Penguins, or San Jose for that matter, each has been pretty consistantly good over the last five years or so, and in the case of the Caps and the Penguins, look like they will be for the next 5-10 years.

I do agree that being consistantly "great" like the Wings or "fairly lousy" like the Leafs is really rare in hockey.

turd ferguson

May 13th, 2011 at 12:42 PM ^

I think I'd be okay with that, actually.  NHL alignment hasn't been the same since they broke up the Norris division, and it'd be kind of nice to get Toronto back as a rival that we see all the time.


May 13th, 2011 at 12:43 PM ^

The Red Wings are the only western conference team in EST ( i believe ) and because of that this rumor has been below the surface for a long time. I personally would love to see it so we can become the only team with a Eastern AND Western conference titles!

EDIT : forgot the expansion Columbus - but still

Broken Brilliance

May 13th, 2011 at 12:43 PM ^

to have earlier games and to have more games against Boston, Toronto, Montreal, Pittsburgh and New York, I want revenge against the Sharks right now.

Also, Why the fuck is Nashville in the Western conference? Move them instead IMO

EDIT: I'm an idiot, they're futher west than we are...ignore me.

Pea-Tear Gryphon

May 13th, 2011 at 12:42 PM ^

This makes sense, so that means there's no chance Bettman does it. I've come to believe,  that David Stern created Gary Bettman to ruin basketball's winter sport rival. So far, it's hard to argue. The problem is that there are more teams to the east than the west, so the Wings get screwed. But hey, at least they help the LA Kings sell out the Staples Center twice a year.


May 13th, 2011 at 12:46 PM ^

A move to the East would be intriguing (no more late night playoff games, easier travel schedule....) but four of the Original Six teams are already in the East.  If Detroit moved, that would leave Chicago on it's own in the West.  I'm not sure if the NHL wants to spread its "tradition" out that much.  However,  I really wish that Detroit could get more games against Toronto and Montreal.

The Wings have built up some great rivalries over the years (Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, Colorado, now San Jose....).  I would definitely get over the move it happened but it would take some time to get used to.

Blue In NC

May 13th, 2011 at 12:57 PM ^

Chicago would be a tough rivalry to lose but the Toronto, Montreal, and boston would more than make up for it.  The rest of the West rivalries really are not the strong (avs are down).  Plus for me it would mean the RedWings coming to Raleigh every year, not every 2-3 years so sign me up.


May 13th, 2011 at 1:02 PM ^

It makes complete sense, but this will NEVER happen. The Red Wings are the biggest draw for every team in the West and the NHL is not going to take the biggest revenue generating opponent from the other 14 teams in the conference. They are also not going to take Chicago's last true rival away from them.

Every year there is always speculation/hope that the Wings will move to the East. It makes all the sense in the world, I really want it to happen (I hate 10:30 playoff games)...but it will never happen.

Judge Smails

May 13th, 2011 at 1:05 PM ^

...but it's nice to dream.  I mean, why would we want to be in the East, when we're treated to at least one round of 10:30 pm EDT road starts in the playoffs every year..?  /s

Without the Wings, the West ceases to be a relevant Conference -- it will have exactly one team anyone in the U.S. cares about -- which is all Bettman cares about: Chicago.

I know your geography was a little off Pahokee, but you're on to something, Nashville will go east before the Wings do.

Mr Mackey

May 13th, 2011 at 1:07 PM ^

Actually now that I think about it, I aree that it will likely never happen. If the NHL is smart at all, they want equal TV time, publicity, and talent in the two leagues.

The Western Conference has been stronger for many years, but if the Wings move to the East, that would make the Eastern Conference home to all the "superstars" that the NHL is proud of (Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin, Stamkos, and even Datsyuk) and it would also have the Wings, the most successful franchise in recent memory.

There would be absolutely no balance between the East and West as far as publicity goes


May 13th, 2011 at 1:12 PM ^

But if you have a successful enough product, you shouldn't worry about having to gerrymander things to ensure balance*.  The Wings have not always been super-popular.  I remember in the '80s when they were the "Dead Things"  and no one went to their games.  They're big now because they've won.  If they move East, some other Western team will fill the void.

 *(Which is also why the Big Ten shouldn't have gerrymandered its two divisions.  It's a sign that the conference is insecure about the marketability of many of its teams.  Go with straight geography and let the chips fall where they may.)


Hemlock Philosopher

May 13th, 2011 at 1:17 PM ^

Bring back the kick ass conference names: Whales and Campbell and divide the teams without regard to geography ala the NFL.  Is there that big of a difference in flying from Pittsburgh to Vancouver than from Detroit to Vancouver?  Not much.  Split the Original Six amongst the conferences, but ensure they meet for a home and home each season. 

Pea-Tear Gryphon

May 13th, 2011 at 1:21 PM ^

Here's a thought, why doesn't the NHL go back to having a Campbell and Wales Conference and then evenly divide teams in each division East, Central and West (like Baseball or Football)? That way you can spread teams across two divisions and across the country. Drop the Geographic divisions. Just spitballin', but here's my Conferences and Divions:

Wales - E

  • Bruins
  • Canadiens
  • Sabres
  • Islanders
  • Rangers

Wales - C

  • Flyers
  • Pens
  • Devils
  • Nashville
  • Columbus

Wales - W

  • San Jose
  • Anaheim
  • Phoenix (if they are still in Phoenix)
  • LA
  • Dallas

Campbell - E

  • Detroit
  • Toronto
  • Ottawa
  • Washington
  • Carolina

Campbell - C

  • Chicago
  • St. Louis
  • Atlanta
  • Tampa Bay
  • Florida

Campbell - W

  • Vancouver
  • Calgary
  • Minnesota
  • Colorado
  • Edmonton

I could see swapping Minny and St. Louis or possibly Dallas. Just a first draft though...


May 13th, 2011 at 7:39 PM ^

I can't disagree enough with this set-up. Teams play division rivals 6 times during the regular season. So instead of 6 Hawks-Wings games we get 6 Hawks-Thrashers games?

Rivalries are the backbone of the NHL and this set-up completely destroys them and is geographically illogical.

I like the idea of changing East and West to Campbell and Wales, but even then, those conferences were split in a somewhat logical manner.

And the idea of Detroit moving to the East only holds weight if Atlanta moves to Winnipeg.

I still think this works the best...


Pittsburgh/PhiladelphiaNew Jersey/Islanders/Rangers




Washington/Tampa Bay/Florida/Nashville/Carolina


Chicago/Detroit/St. Louis/Columbus/Minnesota




Dallas/LA/Anaheim/San Jose/Phoenix

Keeps existing rivalries in tact and makes sense as far as travel goes.


May 13th, 2011 at 1:26 PM ^

I would fully support this, for all of the above-mentioned reasons.  It's well-known that the reason Detroit has been stuck in the West for all of the years, is because Bettman wanted to make it a harder road for them to get in the Finals.

I mean, we're a team in the EST, and we play in the Western Conference?  Never made any sense.


May 13th, 2011 at 1:27 PM ^

The NHL needs to stop worrying about new markets like they did in the 90's and focus on keeping traditional hockey markets. I would like to see Phoenix move back to Winnipeg and Atlanta and Florida move to markets like Quebec and Hartford.  Fans in those markets would love to have teams again and would fill the arenas every night unlike their current homes.  This doesnt really have much to do with the Wings being in the East or West but is one way to make the NHL better.


May 13th, 2011 at 1:53 PM ^

Decent sports city that doesn't have an NBA team.  Right now Washington basketball is the only winter sport there and they sell out every game.  Could start a nice rivalry with Vancouver.  A friend of mine is from Seattle and has told me that people are hoping they can get a team eventually.


May 13th, 2011 at 2:07 PM ^

It seems like everytime the NHL tries to do something to appeal to a more general audience they piss off the fans that have been watching the sport forever.  Also in the process, they make rules that encourage some of the cheapshots we see now.  I mean how long would snow showers on the goalie continue if one of those players that did it one too many times got a tap on his shoulder from say Kocur or Probert?  Or for that matter, the constant runs at Datsyuk?  I mean in the old days, you could take a run at Yzerman but you knew in the back of your mind that Probert would speaking with you later.

And yes, bring back the old Conference and Division names.  Why does the NHL have to be like every other league.

And while I'm bitching about professional sports....dump the DH.


May 13th, 2011 at 1:54 PM ^

I'd be fully in favor of a move to the Eastern Conference but I don't see it happening even if the Thrashers move.  Bettman loves the Wings as a cash cow for the Western teams.  And if the Thrashers moved west honestly it would make more geographical sense to replace them with the Preds** so you could just move them right into the hole left in the Southeast.  Have to think that'd be on the owners' minds.

**Yes I'm aware Nashville is technically further west than Detroit but basing it entirely on longitude is dumb.


May 13th, 2011 at 2:06 PM ^

The only reason the Red Wings would move to the East would be because Red Wings fans have been clamoring for it like crazy ever since we started losing track of the Maple Leafs' roster. Seriously - who the hell's on the Leafs these days?

By the way "Red Wings fans clamoring for it like crazy" is enough of a reason on its own for Gary Bettman not to do something.

The reason it won't happen is the West is built on the premise of small to medium markets held up by monthly visitations by the Red Wings, who are the home team for a quarter of the displaced non-locals that make up the hockey fanbases of Nashville, St. Louis, Phoenix and Columbus.

Moving the Red Wings would leave a massive vacuum in the Central Divison, and leave the Blackhawks as the lone Original Six franchise to boost markets for whom a Thursday night game in December draws fewer spectators than are at Hockeytown Cafe that moment.

If Atlanta goes to, say, Winnepeg, they'll stick Nashville in the Southeast, the Thrashers/Jets in Colorado's division, and maybe move Minnesota into the Central. We're not going anywhere.

Mr Mackey

May 13th, 2011 at 2:20 PM ^

I almost answered with "Mats Sundin" but I realized he must have retired by now.. and I think I recall him going to Vancouver for a little while.. Wasn't there a Sedin-Sedin-Sundin line at one point? So to answer your question, I cannot name one person on the Leafs

Pea-Tear Gryphon

May 13th, 2011 at 2:42 PM ^

Komisarek is on the Leafs...but I cheated and looked up their roster. I agree with your point. The true sign for me is that I don't even really hate the Leafs anymore. I couldn't stand those hosers before, but I guess that's what 20 years of different divisions will do to you. Bettman ruined one of the great rivalries in sports (among countless other things, but I don't want to go into the myriad of missteps).

The FannMan

May 13th, 2011 at 2:19 PM ^

I would love a move to the East.  Not just for the elimination of the 10:30 playoff games, but to prevent the team from having a travel disadvantage every damn year.  A team like Boston can go through the entire playoffs without ever changing timezones or having more than a commuter flight.  The Wings routinely travel for hours for each game.  This adds up in the last three games.

Think about it - if the Wings had made the cup it would have meant serieses with Pheonix, San Jose and Vancouver.  Boston would have played Montreal, Philly and Tampa.  Tampa would have NY, Washnigton and Boston.  If the Caps had beat Tampa its even worse.  (For that matter, Jan Jose didn't have to leave the state for its first round.)

At least can we fix the schedule? Do I need to see 75,000 games a year against C'bus and only one or two againt the Leafs or the Habs?

I hate Gary Buttman.


May 13th, 2011 at 2:49 PM ^

I'm not saying its not gonna happen, but its very unlikely. Detroit is pretty much the preimier team in the West, and the NHL really doesn't want to take one of the best drawing teams out of the west. There was an article a few weeks back that talked about this. I think they were quoting Bill Daly. They asked him about a possible move of Detroit to the east, and them being first in line if it something were to happen. He said not necessarily. Columbus and Nashville would have something to say in it. Jimmy Deveallno (sp) has been lobbying for awhile to get Detroit to the east if something came up, and assumed they were first in line.



May 13th, 2011 at 2:49 PM ^

TSN has been reporting that Mike Illitch has a commitment from Gary Bettman that the Wings have first dibs on a move to the Eastern Conference should the opportunity present itself.  They are reporting the "Thrashers to Winnipeg " and "Wings to Eastern Conference" as a combined package up here.  Like Temptation and Hawaiian War Chant - can't have one without the other. 



May 13th, 2011 at 2:59 PM ^

This is a great idea on the surface not because we get to play the Penguins, but rather the other 4 original Six teams (Montreal, Toronto, Boston, NY Rangers) we hardly get to play.  The NHL has tried to change the schedule so each team comes the Detroit every other year but that doesn't really lend to continuing the history of these rivalries. 

One stipulation would be that Chicago would need a home and home EVERY YEAR.  Those are two games that the league has to have.


May 13th, 2011 at 4:30 PM ^

Why don't NHL teams have a home-and-home with every team in the other conference?  They do it in the NBA, which has the same number of teams and games on the schedule.  Maybe season-ticket sales would increase if you were guaranteed to see each of the other 29 teams in your building.