Detroit Red Wings, NHL have loose definition of "southeast"

I was born in the early 1990s, so if I try really hard, I can remember a time when there were only 26 teams in the NHL, before the Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, and Atlanta Thrashers. So having the Jets back in Winnipeg this season has been rather exciting.

What isn’t so exciting is the prospect of having the Detroit Red Wings moved into the Southeast Division for the 2012-2013 season.

Go ahead and read that again, if you need to. Keeping the Jets in the Southeast division makes no sense, because the only thing that Winnipeg is southwest of is the Inuits, so the league obviously has to do some team-shuffling to straighten out the divisions. Geographically, Winnipeg falls neatly into the Central division, which would require a Central team to be booted.

Detroit has been petitioning to be moved into the Eastern Conference for some time, and it seems like there is a very real possibility of this happening. I checked my map, twice, in fact, and Detroit is definitely not in the southeast United States. Although I can understand why Gary Bettman and league would want the Red Wings figuratively down there; the competition with the Washington Capitals and the Tampa Bay Lightning would do wonders for publicity and TV ratings.

From the point of view of a Caps fan, this would be a terrible move, on account of Detroit being a formidable opponent (except on Saturday! Zing!).  Having to play them more than they already do in a season would definitely make the Caps’ season tougher, and there would be more competition for the Division title. Although the Capitals have won the Division title for the last four years, Tampa Bay is a very real threat, and with a virtually brand new team down in Florida, who knows how the Southeast will look in a few years; maybe it won’t be the laughing stock of the league soon.

I propose that the league move the Columbus Blue Jackets into the Southeast. Not because it makes much more geographic sense, although they are 200 miles south of Detroit. They’re in the Eastern Time Zone, like Detroit, but most importantly, they are perennially much worse than the Red Wings. However, playing against Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk more often would create more exciting games.  Plus, I’m still not entirely convinced Datsyuk isn’t a wizard, and I’d like to get a closer look at him live.

Regardless, some teams will find themselves with new division-mates next year. And if the Coyotes ever leave Phoenix, that will create an even bigger mess for the league. I would personally love to see a new team pop up somewhere else. New toys are always so exciting.

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