Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Wiz Biz: NHL Realignment

As it was tweeted a little more than an hour ago on Twitter, via the venerable vizier of vision, @TSNBobMcKenzie, it appears the Detroit Red Wings are coming to the Eastern Conference. Yes, finally, after ludicrous travel schedules year after year, the Wings are awarded a spot in the...Southeast Division? Wait, what?

Yes. According to Bob, Detroit and Winnipeg are swapping spots, which puts Winnipeg in the acceptable Central Division, just out of reach for intense inter-Canadian slugfests within the Northwest Division. So neither team really gets what it wants, and Detroit gets to face the likes of historic NHL franchises as the Tampa Bay Lightning (est. 1992), the Florida Panthers (est. 1993), and the Carolina Hurricanes (est. 1997). When I think of the Detroit Red Wings, I think of boiling hot temperatures, bikini babes, and parties on the beach 'til the break of dawn. Well, at least, that's what Will Smith promised me.

This is a very poorly thought out move by the league. It's moving Winnipeg, a team that obviously cannot last in the division with some of the worst attendance numbers, into a comfortable position where it can play its obvious Canadian rivalries sometimes but still fill the uninspired role of Nashville and Chicago's whipping boy (at least for a few years). Meanwhile, Detroit, arguably one of the most popular teams in the league, gets shoved into the problem-child division in a very transparent attempt to bolster the weak Southern market. There's a lack of foresight into what this will do to for Detroit's own attendance numbers, which have been called into question a number of times. While it is true that on television Detroit looks like it has a problem, 2007-2008 appears to be an anomaly based on the stats ESPN affords us. Aside from that year, they were a consistently strong draw at home and the road. But I'm getting off on a tangent and there's another lengthy debate to be had.

Detroit Red Wings fans in Detroit don't want to watch Florida, Tampa Bay, and Carolina nine times at home. Detroit Red Wings fans want to play the teams they actually have rivalries with: Montreal, Toronto, Pittsburgh (among the newer rivalries, admittedly) and yes, Chicago. On what planet does it make sense for the Wings to play Southern teams? What happened to the solid plan of having them play Columbus and Nashville, newer expansion teams? Didn't that go well? In my brash and boisterous opinion, it went pretty well for everyone. I love Columbus and Nashville's competitive teams. I love watching the Red Wings duke it out with them in March and now into April. Columbus feels like it's getting closer to kicking Detroit's ass every year. Nashville is already there with their hyper-defensive, extremely well coached team. Chicago will always be Detroit's greatest rivalry. They mirror them in many ways, and even though they never really had to face the Wings, they won the Cup in 2010 for the first time since the Fantastic Four debuted. In 1961, for those who are not comic book nerds like myself.

All tomfoolery aside, let me be terse and concise for once. Moving the Detroit Red Wings to the Southeast Division is NOT a good idea. Yes, it benefits the Jets to move to a competitive, strong Central Division. Yes, it even benefits the Southeast Division to gain an incredibly strong competitor who WILL draw on the road. However, it is a complete fumble and mismanagement of the league's potential for business. Detroit going into a division with Montreal, Toronto, and other logical geographical (and historical) rivals would reignite passions that have long since suffered in Hockeytown. It is entirely ludicrous and unacceptable that a league that had fifty years to develop the "Original Six" rivalries would stomp all over their own history by taking the easy way out of a long, thorough discussion of realignment.

I sincerely apologize to the teams of the Southeast Division, their fans, their players, and anyone associated with the NHL teams situation in the South. I love your teams. I hope they stick around for as long as possible; the idea of more cities losing NHL teams to league mismanagement is something that sickens me. I want what's best for the Southeast Division and its teams. Unfortunately, what could be interpreted as a move with good intentions is just plain nonsensical. I don't want to make it sound like Nashville should be the team to "take a bullet" and join your division but in reality, it should be them. I personally think it would even work better. From my rudimentary knowledge of NCAA football, there's already a pretty good Florida-Tennessee rivalry going on. Can that translate to the ice as well?

Please NHL, do not do this. Do not make such a blunder. This is a Battle-of-Waterloo like mistake waiting to happen. Don't waste an opportunity to reignite some of the most priceless rivalries.


  1. These are the same guys that gave us divisions named after dead or dying owners. The same guys that once put Vancouver in the east, with Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in the west. The same guys that settle tie games with hockey's version of the home run derby. What do you expect? If they're going through with this, at least cut the number of division games with each team down to half a dozen or so.

  2. I didn't know there are Wings fans who enjoy watching us play CBJ and Nash a combined 16 times each year. I can barely push myself to watch those games, as Nashville is easily the most boring team in the entire league. The Southeast teams aren't good rivalries for us at all, but at least we're getting to the East.
    I think its funny that the league still managed to give us the most travel possible in the Eastern conference. Even if we've got good time zones now, we still get to fly to Florida 16 times a year.