When the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg and became the Jets for the start of the 2011 season, it was the final straw of a messy NHL division alignment.
Atlanta became Winnipeg, but the team stayed in the Southeast Division. As a result, Winnipeg, which is located in central Canada, not only had to play multiple games in the southeastern part of the United States, where it played teams like Florida, Carolina, Washington and Tampa Bay.
The Jets certainly weren’t the first victim of overextended travel based on division alignment, either. Among other teams, Detroit and Columbus were also part of the unorganized structure.
Those days are long gone now. Thousands of unneeded airline miles later, the NHL announced its new division alignment Friday afternoon, about four months after the Board of Governors approved the plan. And with the change comes new division names. The Eastern Conference is now made up of the Metropolitan and Atlantic Divisions, while the Western Conference is made up of the Pacific and Central Divisions.
The new alignment certainly solves some old problems. Teams like Winnipeg, Detroit and Columbus should all appreciate the change, as each team’s new division will afford them with easier travel schedules.
But the new names could also draw some criticism. Primarily, do divisions like the Metropolitan, which will be the new home for the Carolina Hurricanes, make sense for the teams that play in them?
Photo via Facebook/Winnipeg Jets