Columbus Blue Jackets Considering a Move to Eastern Conference?

Patrick DrottarCorrespondent IApril 25, 2011

PITTSBURGH, PA - FEBRUARY 8:  Chris Conner #18 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates past goaltender Steve Mason #1 of the Columbus Blue Jackets on February 8, 2011 at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Anyone who looks at a map of North America can tell that the state of Ohio is closer to the east coast than it is to the west coast.

However, the Columbus Blue Jackets find themselves in the Western Conference of the National Hockey League and endure a large amount of travel during the regular season.

The consistent travel that the Jacket players have to go through can take a toll on any team. During a typical season, the Jackets find themselves playing 30 of their 41 away games outside of the Eastern time zone.

Clearly, playing in the Eastern Conference would relieve some the travel issues, as well as dramatically cut travel costs.

Well, according to, the Jackets have in fact inquired about a possible move between conferences.

During an annual review of the league, club President Mike Priest brought up the possibility of a move for the Blue Jackets and what would have to take place for it to happen. 

Other than the cut in costs and a decrease in travel, a move of this caliber would create new rivalries for the Jackets.

One team that comes to mind as a possible new rival would be the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are already a hated team in Columbus as Penguin jerseys flourish when the team comes to Nationwide Arena.

The Jackets have struggled to create rivals in the Central Division of the West. In the past, many have thought there was a rivalry with the Detroit Red Wings, but if one team dominates the other, it is not much of a rivalry.

If the switch was to in fact happen, it would take a few seasons to take place and there are two obstacles that stand in the Jackets' way.

First, a team from the Eastern Conference would have to move to the West.

One team that could possibly be moved in the near future is the Atlanta Thrashers, who have had issues trying to find a buyer who would fight to keep the team in Georgia.

Another team that could be on the move is the New York Islanders, whose current owner Charles Wang has found himself in a political stalemate with the current New York governor.

The Islanders have also seen a large amount of Quebec Nordiques fans come to Nassau Coliseum to fight to bring hockey back to Quebec, who recently approved to have a new arena built. 

As of now, the two likely spots for team relocation are in fact Quebec, as well as Winnipeg.

If a team were to move to Winnipeg, they would be in the Western Conference and would leave an open spot in the Southeast division.

The second obstacle that the Blue Jackets would have to overcome is to gain approval from the NHL's Board of Governors, which could be a more difficult task as the team that has been rumored as the first team to cross over is Detroit.

However, Priest has said he thinks every team has a chance.

"I have personally never been told that anybody has a leg up over anybody else," Priest said. "If there's a team that needs to move to the East, every team would be looked at before any decision is made."

A move to the East would be an interesting move for Columbus when it comes to the playoff hunt.

If you take a look at the standings from this past season, the Jackets would have held the eighth playoff spot or higher during their hot month in February and would have still been in the playoff hunt in the final weeks of the season.

Would the Jackets have more than one playoff appearance in franchise history if they had started in the Eastern Conference?