Despite the fact that the Winnipeg Jets, a Canadian team, located roughly 70 miles north of Minnesota, will play in the Eastern Conference’s Southeast division next year, that absurd situation won’t last long. The NHL execs are scheduled to meet in December, the Board of Governors meeting, and according to media sources and hints thrown by commissioner Gary Bettman, we’re heading towards a realignment in the 2012-2013 season.
The original Winnipeg Jets played in the NHL from from 1979 to 1996 before moving the franchise to Phoenix, becoming the Phoenix Coyotes. The Atlanta Thrashers, founded in 1999, weren’t exactly the most successful team in the league, both in terms of finances and in achievements – only one playoff appearance in 2006-2007 and an overall record of 342-437.
A deal to buy the franchise by True North Sports and Entertainment was brewing for a few years now and by May 2011 the deed was done, only a matter of timing of the NHL’s announcement on the matter. That followed soon enough and the team managed to sell season tickets in a matter of hours in a step by step method. When the sale was opened to the general public on June 4, the remaining 6000 tickets were sold in 17 minutes. They’ve been waiting for another shot at an NHL team for a long time apparantly.
Well, back to the time zone and location problem – Winnipeg aren’t the only team “out of its place” in the league. The Detroit Red Wings, Nashville Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets, all part of the Central Division in the Western Conference, are hoping to make a switch to the Eastern Conference.
With that going on, the NHL is opting to realign the entire league, not just shift the Jets. From a six division league, three in each conference, five teams in each division – The League will shift to a four division plan, two divisions with 8 teams, two with 7. We’ll finish with the words of the commish – That’s a process we’ll go through the first half of next season, looking at the issues that clubs want to raise, looking at various possibilities, and trying to figure out what will make the most sense moving forward.