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Pittsburgh, PA • United States • 48 Years Old • Male
Yesterday Gary Bettman indicated he expects realignment for the 2012-13 NHL season.

With the new Winnipeg franchise playing in the Southeast during 2011-12, a distance of almost 1,300 miles from where the Thrashers played, realignment of this franchise is a necessity.

Since we aren't even finished with the Stanley Cup Finals for 2010-11 yet, I am a little surprised that some kind of realignment could not be done for the 2011-12 season. With the Winnpeg sales drive for tickets currently taking place and the board of Governors "sale approval" meeting scheduled for June 21st...and the 2011-12 NHL schedule not yet published...couldn't the league have moved Winnipeg to it's new conference/division for the upcoming season?

It turns out, according to Bettman, there are three teams that they are considering to move to the Eastern Conference when Winnipeg departs for the West; Detroit, Nashville and Columbus. This appears to be, in part, why the realignment is being delayed. All three teams are the farthest East of any of the Western teams, with Columbus being the closest, only a few hours from Pittsburgh.

Even though there are some serious considerations about which club to move East when realignment occurs, I also get the feeling that the Phoenix Coyotes play into this realignment equation.

With the Coyotes getting another year in Glendale, a year bought by the city itself for $25M, I can't help but think realignment was put off until 2012 so that the NHL can find a buyer for the Coyotes.

Bettman continues to say the NHL wants to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix...but for the life of me, I can't see why.

Given the clubs current financial state and it's poor "box office return" -- even though it has been more successful recently...like setting a franchise record for points in a season...the Coyotes often play in front of a building that's only 72% full (avg of about 12,000)* on most nights --- I just don't see the rationale in keeping a club there.

And maybe Bettman doesn't REALLY see it either.

Maybe "we're committed to keeping the Coyotes in Glendale" is just commissioner-speak.

It wouldn't surprise me in the least if during the 2011-12 season, the Coyotes are bought and moved to Canada in 2012-13.

It would make the total of Canadian teams 8 and would probably affect the realignment more than originally thought but would not necessitate the conference movement of any of the three franchises that Bettman mentioned yesterday (although they might find themselves in new divisions).

Bettman has said in the past that a return to Quebec City is something he wants to see happen. Wouldn't moving the Coyotes to Quebec, in much the same way the Thrashers are being moved to Winnipeg, be the perfect way to fix the messy money situation in Phoenix and realign the league without moving (switching conferences) any franchises that currently have a stable home?

I'm never happy to see a franchise fail in a city.

There are always victims...including fans left without a team.

But sometimes there are problems that can't be solved by wishing things were different and waiting around...hoping that they change.

Sometimes you just have to make that change happen...somewhere else.

Isn't the situation in Phoenix one of those times?

* Coyotes 2010-11 home attendance

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Filed Under:   coyotes   realignment   bettman   thrashers   winnipeg  
June 2, 2011 11:45 AM ET | Delete
You make a compelling point about our friends in Phoenix... but using the last two years is not exactly a decent yardstick for the market. It is hard to ask a market to emotionally invest in a team when there are constant relocation questions swirling about. These last two years have been completely unfair to everyone involved.
June 2, 2011 12:38 PM ET | Delete
Take a look at this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenix_Coyotes_bankruptcy -- It includes a section under Warning Signs that says: "The team had lost an estimated $200 million since 2001 and in recent years posted heavy losses, including $41.6 million in 2006-07, $37.3 million during the 2007-08 season, and $54 million in 2008-09."
June 2, 2011 12:40 PM ET | Delete
Don't disagree... they are bleeding cash for various reasons... and multiple years of bad ownership is coming home to roost, even with a MUCH better on ice product. the right ownership can make a go of it but it may be close to time to pack it in...
June 2, 2011 8:18 PM ET | Delete
Whether you agree Phoenix will/should be moved is not important. I agree that it is the concern and the only sensible reason to kill the Jets with a crazy schedule. Well done.
June 3, 2011 2:41 AM ET | Delete
June 5, 2011 7:58 PM ET | Delete
Fans in Phoenix will still have a team to follow, the Coyotes aren't folding, they're just moving. And that puts hockey fans in Arizona in the exact same position as NHL fans in every city, town, and village in the world, save for the 30 locations that have a team. Nothing is stopping them from being fans now, and nothing is stopping them from being fans after the team moves. Using ownership as an excuse is a crutch, you either love the game or you don't.
June 7, 2011 1:20 PM ET | Delete
team ownership has to be commited to winning
June 14, 2011 9:43 AM ET | Delete
Nice insight. Seems to me Bettman is waiting for the disposition (move) of the Coyotes before doing realignment. This makes all the sense in the world, even if the Jets have a goofy schedule for 2011-12.If the Coyotes go to Quebec or Hamilton, I think you still might see Nashville in the East. Another possibility is Columbus going East, not so much because there is a natural rivalry with Pittsburgh, but also because that franchise could eventually end up in Hamilton or Quebec as well.
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