The NHL map is finally in order with Detroit and Columbus heading east, and Winnipeg moving west.
“We’re thrilled, absolutely thrilled,” Blue Jackets executive John Davidson said on a telephone conference call Thursday, shortly after the realignment plan was approved in a vote by the league’s board of governors.
“We tend to use the (term) common sense around here. This seems to make a lot of common sense.”
The new format goes into effect next season, and will feature two eight-team divisions in the Eastern Conference, including the Red Wings and Blue Jackets. The Jets will now be part of a Western Conference that’s made up of two seven-team divisions.
It’s a plan that Commissioner Gary Bettman called “fan-friendly,” because it aligns teams by divisions that are mostly in the same time zones.
And Bettman noted it will re-establish numerous rivalries by geography and tradition.
Detroit returns to the East in a yet-to-be named division that will feature three other Original Six franchises, Toronto, Boston and Montreal. And Winnipeg is now part of a central-based division after having spent the past two years playing in the Southeast.
“We think this is a common sense practical realignment,” Bettman said.