Saturday, December 19, 2015

Please Move The Red Wings Back West

Maybe it's just me but have the Detroit Red Wings lost more than they think they've gained by switching to the Eastern Conference? We're now in the third season since the switchover, and do the Wings have any rivalries with any teams in the East at all?

Gordie Howe does not have Lou Fontinato to destroy even if the Habs are now decent again. Maybe the Wings will develop a 1950s-like rivalry, but the Habs-Bruins rivalry is still going to trump that no matter what.

Even vs. Boston, the Wings went out meekly in five games in the 1st round in 2014. 

The Wings went seven with the Tampa Bay Lightning in round one in 
last season's playoffs. Did any of the games jump out and stick with you as classics? Do you feel a Stamkos vs. Datsyuk rivalry building?

Then there's their old Snorris Division rivals--the team from the Centre of the Universe.

Sure, they played the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Winter Classic in 2014--the  first season the Wings were in the East. Yet did that conjure up any of those old Western Conference matchups of yore such as this?:

Or this?

Maybe it's going to take until the Leafs actually get half decent to fuel a Mike Babcock vs. his old team feud, but even so, Babs, left the Wings on good terms. Jeff Blashill, the current Wings' coach, was an assistant also under Babcock and has nothing but praise for the man who took the money over, ya know, maybe coaching another Cup contending team.

West Is Best

The Wings' most-storied rivalries, when they got good again from the mid-'90s, were against the Colorado Avalanche and the Chicago Blackhawks. Now, obviously, the Avs' rivalry began to fade once Patrick Roy retired and the one with the current Toews-Kane-Keith et al Blackhawks era took center stage.

So again I ask: Was the switch of conferences to have more games played in their own Eastern Time Zone for television's sake really worth sucking the life out of these rivalries?

The NHL On NBC has Rivalry Night every Wednesday. The league itself recently had "rival" teams playing back-to-back since the last lockout to build up interest.

Detroit's other teams in football, basketball and baseball are all in divisions with teams mainly from the Midwest. The NFL's Lions have been in NFC Central since 1970 with the Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers.
The Lions have been in the same freakin' division with the Bears and Packers since 1934!

The NBA's Detroit Pistons were the Chicago Bulls' main rivals during the Michael Jordan era and that carries over at least when both teams get good at the same time. The Pistons are also now in a revamped Central Division with the very same Bulls, Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks with only the Cleveland Cavaliers in their time zone. OK, the NBA has a far better geographical balance than the NHL such that the Pistons play in the Eastern Conference meaning the 11 of the other 14 teams are in the Eastern Time Zone, but even so, if you named the Pistons' biggest rival, it's the team in the City Of Broad Shoulders.

Baseball's Detroit Tigers, much like the Pistons, are in, yes, a Central Division. Their American League division mates bar the Cleveland Indians are in the central Time Zone (the Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins).

Throw in the history of Detroit as Motown both musically and with the Big Three automakers, the Motor City on the whole has a lot more in common with the industrial cities of the Midwest than the Eastern Seaboard.

Since there is much handwringing about the NHL's expansion plans and this seemingly endless wait for Seattle to get its arena act together and hope they find some rich person who wants to put an NHL team there, why not just entice (monetarily. if need be) the Red Wings back to the West? Then you can put a team in Las Vegas now rather than later.

You'd then have your 16 teams in the West. Add an expansion team in Quebec City to the East to replace Detroit. Then forget about Seattle until another day as, let's face facts, the city really prefers to get an NBA team first and foremost to bring back the glory days of the SuperSonics.

The Red Wings would slot in well in (here it is again) the Central Division and we can look forward to more Game 7 craziness vs. the Blackhawks like this:

Or Game 7 Stevie Y vs. the St. Louis Blues flashbacks


Then there's Shea Weber cozying up to Henrik Zetterberg

Finally, there's the Avs with Patrick Roy as coach. All the Avs would need to ratchet this up to Defcon Draper is hiring Claude Lemieux as an assistant coach.
Who wouldn't want to see what Avs' beat writer Adrian Dater turned into a book appropriately titled Blood Feud begin anew?

After all, the dumb staged fights between designated goons is going the way of the "Jon Scott leading the All-Star vote" dinosaur, but who doesn't love the looney tunes' aspect of a full-on line brawl involving goalies (and I might add two terrific 6-5 hockey regular season [yep, not even playoff] games as well)?

  Round One--1997
Round Two--1998

Let's just give you the Top 10

I rest my case. Move the Detroit Red Wings back to the West, Mr. Bettman.

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