Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Atlanta Headed West... CBJ or Nashville Headed East...?

So Atlanta has now made it official... there is a deal in place to sell the Thrashers and move them west to Winnipeg.

There is only approval by the Board of Governors remaining -- they next meet on June 21 -- to make the Winnipeg/Manitoba... Whatevers official.

Now, the question goes back to who might move east… and whether that change will happen in time for the 2011-12 season.

It has been a hot topic, both in this space and elsewhere… mostly in Columbus, Nashville and Detroit. Assuming the NHL wants to keep its divisions in the East mostly intact – in order to not mess with the obvious rivalries in the Atlantic and Northeast divisions – the team moving east would wind up in the Southeast Division. This makes the most logical options Columbus and Nashville.

Why not Detroit? Well, as I've said before here, I can think of about 14 NHL governors in the Eastern Conference that know moving Detroit to the east would be the conference's undoing. Let's face it… the Red Wings are that good, and the Eastern Conference would never be able to keep up.

I will not delve into this topic too deeply, as I have already done so earlier this month. However, having discussed the issue with a few people since that post it still seems to me that Nashville and Columbus have the best arguments for a moving to the Eastern Conference.

So, for the next few weeks, hockey fans in Nashville and Columbus can only speculate whether one of those cities will get some good news in June (which I'm betting is not likely), or at least have a timeline for when either franchise might get to move east. Either would be a good addition. Columbus has the potential to be an instant contender in the Eastern Conference. Nashville has the potential to be an instant power. Sure, they don't have a bunch of "marquee players," but I defy you to show me a team that works harder and gets those kind of results despite that fact.

But, enough about that. Congratulations to the city of Winnipeg, for its apparent, unofficial acquisition of an NHL hockey team again. For the record, I found it refreshing to see the fans were not being jerks about it, like they were when Phoenix was eliminated from the playoffs, and trumpeted the Coyotes' "coming home."

Maybe Winnipeg fans can be likable after all.

Wrandom Wristers

* As we head into the Stanley Cup Final, I have to say that I am really happy to see that Manny Malhotra has a chance to play in this series. Obviously, as a Blue Jackets fan who was horrified to hear about his eye injury back in March -- and the ensuing surgeries that were required -- it's a good feeling to know that he can be back on the ice this season. The dude has a good beard going, too, from a news conference photo I saw last week.
However, as a Bruins fan, I won't be cheering for him. But it is damn good to see him on the ice, and I certainly wish him well, as I'm sure all Columbus fans do.

* I have to tell you those last "History Will Be Made" spots for the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins are awesome. It's driving me nuts that fans have to wait another 24 hours for the Stanley Cup Final to start. I haven't been this excited about Finals in 10 years, when Ray Bourque finally hoisted the cup for the first time. Even as an Avs fan, I always wished I could have seen him with it in Boston.
But that was Ray's moment. Starting tomorrow, the Boston Bruins get theirs.

Go Bruins!

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