After the Winnipeg Jets ride out the 2011-12 NHL season in the Western Conference, the entire league will get a shakeup in a radical new realignment.
While the league has not determined exactly what will happen, and will spend the next several months discussing the options, word around the NHL draft on the weekend was there could be one 16-team conference with two eight-team divisions and one 14-team conference with two seven-team divisions. Or the conferences could each have an eight-team division and a seven-team division.
Under a proposal the Ottawa Sun reported was put forward by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman at last week's board of governors meeting, the league would go to four divisions - the Pacific, Midwest, East and South. But just which team would go where is not clear at this point.The Eastern Conference will probably be the larger one, since there are three current Western Conference teams that want to move east when Winnipeg moves west from the Southeastern Division. In order to accommodate the wishes of the Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators, it looks like the league will move away from its current six divisions.
The Blue Jackets are pushing the proposal for a 16-team conference and a 14-team conference in hopes of moving east. They are in the Eastern time zone and do not like playing many of their road games in different time zones because their games have to be shown at late hours on television.
"We want to go in the east," Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson said Saturday. "We want to play more Eastern time-zone teams for obvious reasons.
"We're hopeful we can make that work. I'm in favour of anything that puts us in the east. I'm just happy we're discussing it."