Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Atlanta's relocation to Winnipeg won't affect Wild next season

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: May 31, 2011 - 7:50 AM

I'll be in the air heading for Toronto during the news conference, but the Atlanta Thrashers' relocation to Winnipeg is complete -- pending Board of Governors approval, of course.

A news conference by True North Sports and Entertainment has been called for 11 a.m. CT in Winnipeg.

This doesn't affect the Wild -- this year.

According to a source, the Wild will remain in the Northwest Division at least one more season until realignment occurs after the upcoming the season. The Wild wants to move to the Central Division (as the division stands now), however realignment could include a completely different type of divisional structure, so where the Wild ultimately falls appears to be up in the air.

In other words, there's a potential that the current structure of six divisions of five teams each could be completely revamped.

The feeling is realignment makes no sense until Phoenix is completely resolved and a new collective bargaining agreement (expires after next season) is in place. So, for next season, the only change will be Winnipeg in the Southeast Division.

There are great, passionate hockey fans in Atlanta, so my condolences. And congrats to the great fans of Winnipeg, who have long aspired for the return of the NHL.

I'll be back with you after I land this afternoon.


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