The NHL is currently putting together a proposal for a four conference realignment with the NHLPA; where the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets move from the Western Conference to the two Eastern Conferences.
Mike Ilitch has been pushing the NHL to move the Red Wings from the Western Conference to the East for many years. This is the first NHL proposal that accomplishes that goal. Red Wings fans are excited about this proposal as well because it would mean less late game for the viewers in Detroit, who suffered through Playoff games start times of 10-11 p.m. ET.
Last season the NHL proposed a similar realignment in which Detroit and Columbus stayed in the two Western Conferences, but proposed less travel for the Red Wings. Wing fans were not excited about it because it kept the team in a Western Conference, but Ilitch took it as a decent compromise.
So what does this mean for the Red Wings in terms of travel if this proposal is approved? Like the last proposal there will be an even amount of Eastern and Western travel for teams, but instead of being spread out, a good portion of the travel will be on two separate road trips. The Red Wings will have to travel to Florida to play the Panthers and Lightning, as well, but the overall amount of travel for the Red Wings would diminish under the new proposal.
Moving Detroit into Conference 2 will bring back the rivalry between The Maple Leafs and The Red Wings, which has long been dormant since the Wings moved to the West. If the proposal is approved before the NHL season next season it will be the perfect tie-in to the Winter Classic.
While this is good new for the Wings and their fans, Western teams that use the Red Wings as a draw more fans to the game are not going to be happy about the move. Phoenix, Dallas, and San Jose use the Red Wing name as a draw to sell tickets, but soon they might have to look for another team to take the Wings’ place.
The NHLPA will have to accept the realignment before it can become official, but a realignment will happen.
Overall this is a good move for both the Detroit Red Wings and the NHL.