Changes Coming to the Central Division?
When it was announced that the Atlanta Thrashers were moving to Winnipeg to become the born again Jets, it became pretty evident that the NHL would have to tinker with their current divisions. For instance, Winnipeg will spend the 2011-12 season competing in the Southeast Division, against teams such as Tampa Bay and Florida. Obviously, changes need to be made moving forward and one report has been leaked regarding the evolution of the Central Division.
According to CSN Chicago
, the Minnesota Wild's owner Craig Leipold may have spoke a bit too soon, giving us all something to talk about for the next few days. The NHL has remained pretty mum on the whole situation, but Leipold spilled the potential plans while being interviewed on a local radio station.
Leipold mentioned the new Central would consist of Minnesota, Winnipeg, St. Louis, Nashville, Dallas, Chicago and potentially Columbus, depending whether or not they remain in the Western Conference or switch to the Eastern Conference. Simply put, a complete overhaul of the current divisions as we know them.
One name you may notice is missing from that list of Central Division teams is the Detroit Red Wings, who are rumored to be headed to the Eastern Conference.
It is also worth noting the uncertainty surrounding Columbus, as keeping them in the Central would mean seven teams going by Leipold's list. Seven is one number that just doesn't seem to work, unless the NHL is planning on some sort of 14-16 split between the two conferences, which I'd be completely against.
The big question remains - what happens to the playoffs? Currently, the top-8 of 15 get in. It's an easy and exciting format. Tinkering too much with the overall concept of how a team makes the playoffs is a treacherous and potentially disastrous idea. Let's hope some serious thought is put in before any changes are set in stone.
Unfortunately, this is all the information we currently have to work with and these negotiations/discussions could still be in the preliminary stages. Leipold may in fact be correct about what he stated, but those statements could easily evolve and shift as the NHL attempts to clean up their alignments.