Could Detroit Red Wings Be Headed to NHL Eastern Conference?

Matthew ShepardContributor IIIMay 27, 2011

DETROIT - MAY 26:  A fan of the Detroit Red Wings waves a Red Wing flag during game two of the 2008 NHL Stanley Cup Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Joe Louis Arena on May 26, 2008 in Detroit, Michigan. The Red Wings defeated the Penguins 3-0 to set the series at 2-0 Red Wings. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

It looks like Winnipeg will finally get its hockey team back. The most likely candidate is the Atlanta Thrashers.

For years, Atlanta has not been able to keep hold of its talented players. They let their two biggest players go (Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk).

As a result, the fanbase has been lacking.

The next team that maybe on the chopping block is the Phoenix Coyotes, but for now they are safe. 

If and when Winnipeg gets its team they are going to be in the Western Conference. This means somebody has to move. The two most likely teams are Nashville and Detroit. Wings owner Mike Ilitch will most likely pull some strings to move the Wings over to the East.

The advantages that this move will bring will be good for Detroit and their fans. Fans will not have to stay up till 1 a.m. to see the final minutes of play during the many West Coast games Detroit played.

This means happier fans and a more rested Detroit team. 

Another big advantage for Detroit is new rivals. When the Toronto Maple Leafs were in the West, they had a rivalry. Over the years that has disbanded. Usually Detroit's rival is whoever they lost to in the Playoffs. New tensions will be built and Detroit's hatred of Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins will provide some entertainment in the East.

The Wings have not been the greatest after losing Marian Hossa and will most likely not be No. 1 in the East.

Not all is lost though for fans.

Detroit is a ever evolving team. They always seem to impress and even after losing big names they always find someone. Ever since the NHL cap Detroit has been able to make no name players into household names and that is what fans love.   

If Detroit leaves the West this means that teams that have struggled to get in the playoffs, in years past, will have a bigger chance to make it as well. Teams like Dallas and Calgary, who just fell short of making Playoffs will have something to look forward. This also means if Phoenix is still around during the move they will not have to lose to Detroit in the first few rounds.

For the East, this means a shake-up. They will be losing a weak team and gaining a powerhouse. The East has many talented players and adding some more would provide an interesting mix during the all-star games. This depending on if the league will provide a traditional East vs. West game.   

Ilitch will be the happy, not only because people can watch more games but cost of travel. Since Detroit is in the West, they have to travel to the West Coast a lot. Although the Wings are in no short supply of money, fewer travel miles means more profit.

With gas prices being so high, even the NHL is feeling the pressure to reduce cost.

Nashville is another possible move. However, they are just now getting attention in the West and moving them would not be in the best interest if they want to have a high seed in the Playoffs.