Today, the NHL held a teleconference to officially discuss the formal approval of realignment as voted by the 30 Board of Governors. Although he wouldn't provide details about the exact voting outcome, Commissioner Gary Bettman indicated the new plan is, "Not perfect for every club," but all 30 representatives provided input and we feel this best suits the teams.
"The biggest highlight will be the fact that all 30 teams will play each other and in every arena at least one time," Bettman said, which will give markets from all over the league the opportunity to see every player. "Rivalries will be developed," Bettman continued, "and these rivalries will be time-zone friendly."
The new look will be in effect for a minimum of three seasons and has the full approval of the Players Association, which voted against the proposal when it was first voted on by the BOG back in December of 2011 (not so much because the PA disagreed with realignment, but wanted to draw a pre-lockout line in the sand to show the league they were not just going to roll over and accept league proposals).
On the call were representatives from four teams who gain the most from realignment: Winnipeg (as they move to Conference "B" which is the central-located division from the Southeast division of the Eastern Conference), Detroit and Columbus (who both make the move from the Central division of the Western conference to Conference "C" in the East) and of course, the Dallas Stars, who were represented by President and CEO, Jim Lites (who make the move from the Pacific division and into the centrally located Conference "B").
Mr. Lites took the opportunity to thank the league on behalf of Stars owner, Tom Gaglardi and the rest of the staff and organization for making realignment a reality.
"We are the biggest benefactor of realignment," Jim said. "We welcome Winnipeg into the West as we had a great relationship with the Jets when we were located in Minnesota (as the North Stars prior to the team's relocation to Dallas)."
Jim Lites highlighted the fact that the biggest positive to come out of realignment for Dallas was of course the time zone difference the organization had to fight as a memeber of the Pacific division.
"When we made the move to the Pacific division, our television ratings dropped by nearly 60%. When we play at home and start our games in primetime, those figures increase some 4-5 times (prior to the move to the Pacific)."
Jim added, "Travel is hard on the players. We were losing on average 7-10 practice days a season because of the days we arrive back in Dallas from a west coast swing anywhere between 2:00 to 4:00 in the morning. We feel this will improve the performance of our players and coaches."
Mr. Lites also indicated that the fans will be more engaged because not only will the majority of games start 2 hours earlier, but the all important divisional games will start no later than 7:00 PM (sometimes 8:00, depending on national coverage) central time.
Realignment is finally a reality for Stars fans. The only folks that could possibly find pain in this highly anticipated move are coffee makers and the Columbian coffee bean growers who Stars fans highly relied upon on days after games in California, and Darryl "Razor" Reaugh's tan lines.