Jets eye re-alignment shuffle

With a couple of former Blackhawks now here, including Dustin Byfuglien (left), and a couple of...

With a couple of former Blackhawks now here, including Dustin Byfuglien (left), and a couple of Winnipeggers playing in the Windy City, Chicago and Winnipeg would make easy rivals.

Ken Wiebe, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:07 PM ET

WINNIPEG - Being the new kid on the block, the Winnipeg Jets haven’t been making any noise about where they’re going to end up after the NHL realignment shuffle becomes official.

That could happen as early as Tuesday evening, when the NHL board of governors meetings wrap up in Pebble Beach, Calif.

What we know for sure is the Jets won’t reside in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference past this season and that only makes sense.

There is surely going to be some lively debate behind closed doors over the next two days, but much of the posturing and working of the room has taken place already.

It’s been reported that there are two proposals left on the table — one which would have the Detroit Red Wings and Jets trade places, with Detroit moving to the Southeast Division and the Jets going to the Central Division.

That would be an easy solution, but we’re not sure it’s going to end up that way.

The other scenario in play would have the NHL go from two conferences and six divisions to four conferences — two of which having eight teams and two with seven.

The first two rounds of the playoffs would be played within your own conference, helping rivalries. The teams would be re-seeded after the second round to continue the quest for the Stanley Cup.

The NHL needs to secure 20 of 30 votes in order for either proposal to pass.

Under the latter scenario, the Jets would likely end up in a conference with the Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars and Red Wings.

That would mean six teams in the central time zone and two in the east, which makes sense on a lot of levels.

“I’d like to stay in the same time zone, the majority of guys would,” said one Jets player who was granted anonymity. “The travel is a lot different in the west.”

From a historical perspective, the Jets would love to see a number of games against the Canadian teams, especially the likes of the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks.

But at this stage of the game, it seems unlikely the Jets will find themselves in a modified Smythe Division.

To be honest, as great as it would be to see the renewal of the rivalries with the Oilers, Flames and Canucks, there will be others that blossom once the Jets make it back to the post-season party.

The Oilers and Stars sparked a great rivalry in the late ’90s and the Blackhawks and Canucks currently have a rivalry that has nothing to do with geography.

Besides, under the four- conference scenario, the Jets would have a home-and-home series with each team — so all Canadian teams would roll through town at least once and the likes of the Oilers, Flames and Canucks should be coming in twice.

Not all teams will like how it shakes down, but the Jets and their fans should come away happy regardless of which proposal passes.


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