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NHL Realignment? What It Means For Boston

The Bear Essentials by Mark Feldman, 98.5 The Sports Hub
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Zdeno Chara, Jeremy Jacobs, and Cam Neely, of the Boston Bruins react to cheers during the Stanley Cup victory parade on June 18, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Zdeno Chara, Jeremy Jacobs, and Cam Neely, of the Boston Bruins react to cheers during the Stanley Cup victory parade on June 18, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) – Next week the NHL will hold its annual “Board of Governors Meeting.”

The agenda will include a long list of topical issues; one of those issues, the Winnipeg Jets. With the Jets back in the National Hockey League, what will be done about the overall divisional picture? And ultimately, what will it mean for Boston.

There are two leading solutions. The first is simple; swap Detroit with Winnipeg. Make the Red Wings an Eastern Conference team and you’re done.

Read: The Bear Essentials Blog

The second is a bit more complicated. Get rid of the six divisions. Get rid of the two conferences. Instead replace them with four divisions; two with eight teams and two with seven teams. Each club will play home-and-home games between divisions and there will also be divisional playoff matchups.

Take a breath. Simply put, it would look something like this:

Pacific Mountain: Anaheim, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver.

Central East: Chicago, Dallas, *Detroit, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, Winnipeg.

East 1: Boston, Buffalo, *Columbus, Montreal, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Toronto.

East 2: Carolina, Florida, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Washington.

*Detroit and Columbus may swap positions

Essentially, the second option is there to appease the Western Conference. From the Boston Bruins perspective however, the four division league is a bad idea. Typically, the East has it easier when it comes to travel schedules. If the proposal comes to fruition, each team in the east will be forced to increase their commutes in order to play the home-and-home games.

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Although these are professional athletes, complicating the schedules may prove to be damaging to overall team performance. Instead of taking a Western road trip several times a year, the Bruins would be forced to travel more often than not. When asked about the Western travel programs, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Ian white had this to say: “”With all the time you spend traveling, your body never seems like it’s on the same schedule. It seems like you are always going across three time zones, and all of the time spent in the air can’t be good for your body.”

Furthermore, what would the change mean for divisional rivalries? With a potential introduction of both the Penguins and Red Wings into the competitive picture, will Boston be able to maintain its current dominance? Sure, Detroit may end up in the Eastern Conference regardless, but Detroit in the same conference isn’t as difficult as Detroit in the same division.

Finally, more travel means more costs for Jeremy Jacobs. Yes, Jacobs has recently been more generous with his wallet and his investments have yielded great returns. However, if there is little reason to spend, something tells me that the “fiscally conservative side” of the Bruins owner may reappear.  And with a vote in hand, it seems doubtful that he would be in support of such a drastic change.

With the Winnipeg Jets back in the National Hockey League, the Board of Governors has a difficult decision to make; swap Detroit with the Jets or rearrange the divisions. Both solutions come with pros and cons but as for the Boston Bruins, the latter plays to their disadvantage.

Follow Mark Feldman on Twitter @BEssentialsBlog

98.5 The Sports Hub is the only place to hear every game of the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins 2011-12 NHL season with Dave Goucher and Bob Beers. Coverage begins 30 minutes prior to every game.

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