The Phoenix Coyotes are moving to Winnipeg!...or Las Vegas...er umm maybe Kansas City? While scouring the web for my daily dose of sports news I found two different sites with small blurbs predicting where the Coyotes will move too. Sportsnet.ca has them moving to Winnipeg (as a Canadian that makes sense to me) while SI.com has a link from CBC.ca saying they are moving to Las Vegas or Kansas City. (huh?)
Nevermind that it isn't yet determined that the Coyotes are actually moving. Though in all honesty that seems the most likely scenario at this point.
I don't think that the Coyotes will be the only franchise to seek greener pastures in the future. This left me asking the questions; who's next and where will they go? Their is no shortage of NHL teams that seem to be in trouble. Phoenix is just at the top of the list right now. The Thrashers, Predators, Panthers and Stars have all been linked to financial issues. Just yesterday I heard that the Blues and Islanders can be added to that group.
So in the spirit of "what if" here is a prediction of four NHL teams changing addresses, where they will move and what the aftermath will look like in terms of division and conference re-alignment.
#1 Phoenix Coyotes to Winnipeg: A nice easy one to start. It would seem pretty obvious that the first choice for moving the team would be back to Manitoba, especially if your from there. Better the devil you know than the one you don't. Their are reasons both for and against this move but how happy would the citizens of Winnipeg be if they had their beloved Jets back? Bring on the return of original 'white out'.
#2 Nashville Predators to Kansas City: The Predators have been linked to problems for several seasons now and things don't seem to be getting better. The Preds ranked 26th in the NHL in average attendance this season (as a playoff team!) and still have ownership issues. Kansas City has been listed as a potential destination for pretty much every team in trouble for quite some time now so I believe it would be the first American city on the list of potential movers.
#3 Atlanta Thrashers to Las Vegas: Now I firmly believe that it will be difficult for most teams to find success in places where you can't naturally play the game. In more basic terms, places that it doesn't snow! But since the NHL doesn't seem to agree with that, Vegas here we come! The Thrashers are a putrid 28th in average attendance filling their arena to 73% capacity. I would predict this team to once again fall on hard times a few years after the move, once the novelty wore off. Unless Crosby or Ovechkin gets traded here ala Gretzky to LA.
#4 Florida Panthers to Southern Ontario: You could swap Florida with any of the other teams listed above but they certaintly are not unworthy of consideration. 25th in attendance, filling to 78% capacity and have been linked to financial trouble since, I dunno, they were founded. Southern Ontario (Toronto, Hamiliton, an arena on the side of the road) should really be the first choice as a destination. You could probably move all four of these teams there and they would do better than where they are now.
So thats a pretty easy excercise. Picking four troubled franchises and moving them to logical locations. But what does it do to the current alignment of the NHL? Throws it all out whack! I found this the most challenging part of the thought process but here it goes...
Pacific Division: Kings, Sharks, Ducks, Avalanche and Las Vegas(thrashers)
Northwest Division: Flames, Canucks, Oilers, Wild and Winnipeg(coyotes)
Cental Division: Blackhawks, Blues, Stars, Redwings and Kansas City(Predators)
Northeast Division: Senators, Mapleleafs, Canadians, Bruins and Southern Ontario(Panthers)
Southeast Division: Capitals, Hurricanes, Lightning, Bluejackets and Sabres
Atlantic Division: Devils, Rangers, Islanders, Penguins and Flyers
The Atlantic Division stays untouched (the only one) and the Northwest swaps Colorado for Winnepeg with the Pacific. The Pacific also adds Las Vegas and Dallas moves to the Central. The Predators remain in the Central and Columbus moves to the Eastern conference where it belongs as a eastern time-zone team. Detroit is also in the eastern time-zone but why would the NHL break up the Redwings/Blackhawks rivalry? They wouldn't.
I don't think they would want to break up any State, Provincial, or original six rivialries so thats why Buffalo gets booted to the Southeast division. Ridiculous! Thats stupid! I can hear the reactions now but really you can't break up the Atlantic (the most logical place for the Sabres) and the Sabres travel schedule would still be lighter than the Redwings.
I am intersted in hearing what others have to say about this. The possibilities are wide open. Just switch one of the teams that are moving with another troubled franchise (Islanders or Stars) or switch one of the destinations (Quebec City or Oklahoma City) and you can think up a whole new scenario.
Thoughts? Opinions? Anyone?