Because making a decision and taking action is a slow-motion affair in the league’s front offices, the Jets will be competing on the balmy shores of the league’s SE division this coming year. However, according to TSN, it looks like the long-term destination for Winnipeg will be the Central division. Which is kind of bad news.
Nostalgia and senitment favored a move back to the NW with the Flames and Oilers, perhaps bumping the Canucks to the Pacific. That re-alingment would have been the best for the Jets competitive purposes as well, since the new-look division would have been the weakest in the league absent the Canucks. Playing the Oil, Avalanche and Wild multiple times a season can’t hurt the ol’ playoff chances. And the Flames are one or two retirements away from falling off a cliff themselves.
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Instead, it seems the Jets will share a division with Chicago, Columbus, Dallas and Nashville (with the Red Wings finally moving back to the East), which is a much tougher row to hoe even with Detroit departing. The Blackhawks will no doubt continue to be a heavy hitter in the league, particularly as they extricate themselves for Tallon’s post-cup cap crunch. The Columbus Blue Jackets are a middling squad whose efforts have been hampered by having to battle the likes of DET and CHI multiple times every year. The addition of Jeff Carter this season probably makes them more of concern going forward. Nashville is never great, but certainly never bad under the steady guidance of David Poile and Barry Trotz. The Dallas Stars is probably the weakest club of the lot, although they might take a step or two forward if they can ever figure out their ownership issues.
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The central won’t be the toughest division in the league from the looks of things right now, but there’s no question the NW would have been preferable for Jets fans. Perhaps anything is better than the playing in the SE though, which will no doubt feature a pretty demanding travel schedule.