NHL Realignment: Detroit's Reported Departure Could Boost Blackhawks

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NHL Realignment: Detroit's Reported Departure Could Boost Blackhawks
http://bleacherreport.com/article/766023/add_media#

Since the recent move of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg took place, there have been many news stories and blog posts about the NHL realigning the divisions and even switching teams from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference, or vice versa.

The newest report that came out Monday, one that CSNchicago.com reaffirmed on Tuesday morning has a new Central Division consisting of the Minnesota, Winnipeg, Chicago, St. Louis, Nashville, Dallas, and possibly Columbus.

Read over the teams again. See anything missing?

There's no Detroit in that list.

The man who might have 'let the cat out of the bag' is Minnesota's owner Craig Leipold, who, on Minneapolis's KFAN radio, told the interviewer about the NHL's supposed realignment that would take effect at the start of the 2012-13 season.

"Our division would include the Winnipeg Jets, us, the Blues, the Nashville Predators, the Dallas Stars, Chicago Blackhawks, and maybe the Columbus Blue Jackets… maybe not depending on if they go east or west. I am all in favor of that. I think that is a grand slam, home run, hat trick for our team.

We’re all Central Division now. All of our teams, except for Columbus, all of our teams will be Central Division. We’ll play less teams in Canada. We will play every team home and away at least one time."

Do you think this new Central Division would help the Blackhawks?

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It has also been widely reported that Detroit would be leaving the Western Conference and joining the Eastern Conference, leaving the Hawks as the only Original Six team in the Western Conference.

Of course none of this is actually set in stone, but the tone in which Leopold dropped the news, coupled with the fact that the Detroit management have their "fingers and toes crossed" for a switch to happen because it would cut travel time and allow them to play more Original Six teams, gives this scenario some credibility.

If this does happen, will this be a good or bad thing for the Blackhawks?

My answer would be both yes and no.

First off, there would be no more Detroit/Chicago rivalry. Logically, it's a good thing since the Hawks have a career 270-354-84-7 record against the Red Wings, but it would end a tradition that started all the way back to the 1926-27 season.

The rivalry is one of, if not the most entertaining and intense rivalries in the NHL, and ending such tradition doesn't sit well with a lot of fans.

On the other side, it could be a very positive change for the Blackhawks in terms of less competition within their division. There has only been one time in the past 12 years that the Red Wings didn't find themselves on top of the Central Division, losing the title to the Blackhawks in the 2009-10 season.

If the division was aligned last season as what Leipold said they might become, the Central Division standings would have looked like this: Nashville (99 points), Chicago (97 points), Dallas (95 points), St. Louis (87 points), Columbus (81 points), and Winnipeg (80 points).

The Hawks wouldn't be division leaders, but it's hard to not suggest that they would have a better chance to be more successful in the Central Division with these changes and also having an easier schedule because of it.

Like I said before, nothing is set in stone because the NHL hasn't officially announced anything yet, but if such a deal like this should be done, I think it would benefit the Blackhawks despite losing a much-loved and respected rival.

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