Spurred by the relocation of the Jets, and a myriad of travel concerns from other teams, the NHL has decided upon their Realignment plans.
It’s unofficial at the moment, but as it stands now, the Jets will no longer find themselves as members of the Southeast division, which must be a relief to both the Team and the Environment as their travel schedule will no longer be ridiculously FedEx’esque. Sadly, us Winnipeg fans will have to say goodbye to those classic Hockey rivalries with cities like Sunrise, Florida, and Raleigh, North Carolina. But on the bright side, Steven Stamkos can enjoy his best years lighting up some other teams.
I’m sure you’ve read the news, but if you haven’t, check it from the Horses(NHL) mouth here. The current proposal retains the 2 Conference format, but with 2 divisions in each, rather than 3. The Jets will be in the Western Conference in a newly created ‘Midwest’ Division. I was hoping that the NHL would see fit to put the Western Canadian in the same division, a la the days of the good ol’ Smythe Division. It would be the renewal of classic rivalries. Just imagine the Flames, Jets, Oilers and Canucks all battling for playoff spots! The fun! The grudges! The chance for decades-old revenge!! But it isn’t to be. Stymied again. Instead, new rivalries are on the way. Let’s take a look at who the Jets will now find themselves clashing with in the Midwest Division:
Chicago Blackhawks – It should be fun to have the Blackhawks in the same division. Jonathon Toews gets the chance to both shine in, and torture the souls of, his hometown. We’ll get plenty of Kane on Kane action. As the Jets rise to prominence, the Hawks will surely their to contest them every step of the way.
St. Louis Blues – Good grief. The Blues are one of the best up-and-coming teams in the League, chopped full of young, promising talent – and now the Jets are going to get a good heaping dose of them every year. Great. On the upside, it’ll be nice to see a Steen skating in an NHL rink in Winnipeg again.
Nashville Predators – Barry Trotz, Shea Weber, Pekka Rinne, and whoever else they have under contract that year, are always good. Trotz has deep local Hockey roots, so let’s hope the Jets destroy the Predators, forcing them to fire Trotz, who is then immediately hired with by the Jets and offered any/every job he wants.
Minnesota Wild – I
f you love up-tempo, exciting, offensive hockey, you’re screwed! A team never compared to the Oilers of the 80’s, or the Russian Red Army, NHL Canadiens, and WHA Jets of the 70’s, watching the Wild makes you want to gouge your eyes out and plead for Actually I just thought a positive. A geographic rivalry! This could actually be fun. Minneapolis is the closest NHL city, and they love their Hockey there in a very Canadian-like manner. There is a good chance of a pretty intense situation brewing here. And since JetsNation has Minnesota native Dustin Byfuglien on their team, Jets fans can already claim preliminary victory over their Wild counter-parts in what should be a fun, and possibly great, rivalry. Cue the Wild Sucks jokes!
Dallas Stars – The Jets WILL mess with Texas!
Colorado Avalanche – Another team chopped full of young stars. Jets fans will get their share of Matt Duchense, Gabriel Landeskog and more. Thank goodness this isn’t the 90’s, and they don’t have Sakic, Forsberg and Roy anymore – but this will still be a team to reckon with in a few years time, if not earlier.
So as you can see, the Jets are in for a tough ride. Regular doses of Kane, Toews, Parise, Duchesne, Weber and more should be fun to watch, but tough to beat.
With Reports suggesting that the Top 3 teams in each division will qualify for the playoffs, along with 2 wild-card spots for the top teams in the Conference outside the aforementioned 6 playoff teams, the Jets find themselves in tough still, even though they only have a 7 team division.
In fact, if the league re-aligned today, the Jets would find themselves in 6th place in the Midwest, ahead of only Colorado. So let’s count our blessings that the Jets will spend one more year in the Southeast division, where they are currently tied for First, even though they’re technically 9th in the Conference.
That said, with the continual growth of our own Superstar Kane, along with Wheeler, Bogosian, Byfuglien and Ladd, and whatever Jacob Trouba and Mark Scheifele can bring, it’s safe to sat the Jets may very well be the team to beat in the Midwest in the years to come.