With realignment on NHL's agenda, Wild longs for the Midwest

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 4, 2011 - 11:59 PM

Tired of traveling to the Western time zones for most of its road games, the Wild is hoping the league will adopt this week a four-conference plan.


Wild coach Mike Yeo would welcome the chance to play more road games in the Central time zone.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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ANAHEIM, CALIF. - Not that realignment will go in the Wild's favor and it'll end up in an old-Norris-like Division, but if anybody would like the Wild to take fewer trips to Canada, it's Mike Yeo.

The Wild coach, a Canadian citizen, is in the process of getting his green card, so every time he crosses the border, Yeo is directed into a special room for further questioning, paperwork and rubber stamps.

"The worst part is I'm holding everybody up," Yeo said.

On Monday and Tuesday in Pebble Beach, the Board of Governors will gather to discuss and potentially vote on a realignment plan for the 2012-13 season.

There appear to be two possibilities -- one simple, one radical. The easiest thing, and the one that has the best chance of passing, is to move Winnipeg into the Central Division and Detroit into the Southeast. The most radical, and the one the Wild endorses, is a four-conference plan made up of seven or eight teams in each conference

The Wild's conference would also include Winnipeg, St. Louis, Dallas, Nashville, Chicago and Columbus. Wild owner Craig Leipold has been persistent in his wish to get the Wild out of the Northwest.

The reasons? 1) Better geographical rivalries; 2) shorter flights; 3) fiscally more desirable; 4) fewer times through customs; 5) earlier start times, meaning fans can watch more road games on TV.

But it takes 20 teams to get any realignment plan approved, so many believe the less upheaval created, the easier it will be to realign.

So the Wild could very well be left disappointed, but Leipold hopes not.

"I think all the Western Conference teams would vote for [the four-conference format]," Leipold said. "It works to their benefit and I think there are enough Eastern Conference governors that will frankly do the right thing for the NHL.

"We get five or six from the Eastern Conference, and it should pass. There would be a lot of winners if that were the case -- teams, fans and the NHL."

Yeo agrees with Leipold that the Wild should be out of the Northwest.

"We haven't played one road game in our own time zone yet. How amazing is that?" Yeo said.

"It just makes no sense," Leipold said.

Yeo added: "Think of how many times we go into Canada compared to other divisions. Most teams get security checks at the rink and zip, right to the plane. We're a half-hour, an hour -- at least, if not more -- through customs. That doesn't sound like much, but that's a big deal when the amount of sleep the players need is already in short supply."

The Wild's first road game in the Central time zone is Dec. 13 in Winnipeg (ironically, an Eastern Conference team). That is 16 road games into the Wild's 41-road game schedule.

Yeo spent five seasons as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"You're traveling longer distances in the Northwest Division and you're bouncing from time zone to time zone," Yeo said. "But also, your trips are longer. Pittsburgh, you go play one, two road games and then come back home for two. Here it seems you play four or five at home, then four or five on the road."

Added defenseman Nick Schultz, who has spent his whole career in the Northwest, "This is all I know, but I know it's pretty wearing being in the Northwest, and the fans seem to love when Chicago and St. Louis come to Minnesota."

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New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Detroit 20 2nd Qtr 9:59
Philadelphia 32
Portland 23 2nd Qtr 11:15
Cleveland 31
Sacramento 6:30 PM
Boston 7:00 PM
Dallas 7:00 PM
Denver 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Brooklyn 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City 7:00 PM
New York
Charlotte 7:30 PM
San Antonio
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
Washington 9:30 PM
Toronto 6:30 PM
New Jersey
Pittsburgh 7:00 PM
Chicago 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Temple 30 1st Half 3:24
UCF 18
Winthrop 27 1st Half 3:34
Coastal Carolina 27
Lafayette 23 1st Half 3:09
Colgate 27
Northeastern 18 1st Half 3:40
Drexel 13
Wake Forest 21 1st Half 6:32
Florida State 14
Rhode Island 22 1st Half 5:08
Fordham 27
Delaware 34 1st Half 2:21
James Madison 32
South Carolina 23 1st Half 4:44
LSU 24
New Hampshire 21 1st Half 5:59
Maine 8
Seton Hall 30 1st Half 2:49
Marquette 25
Binghamton 23 1st Half 5:50
American Univ 29 1st Half 4:22
Navy 24
Elon 14 1st Half 5:17
UNC-Wilmington 29
Wright State 31 1st Half 2:39
Oakland 21
Minnesota 20 1st Half 1:57
Penn State 33
Duquesne 19 1st Half 4:40
Richmond 40
SMU 23 1st Half 4:00
South Florida 20
Hartford 26 1st Half 4:06
Stony Brook 18
Albany 23 1st Half 1:05
Vermont 17
Hofstra 26 1st Half 3:51
William & Mary 44
UNC-Asheville 27 1st Half 4:51
Longwood 17
Radford 6:30 PM
Char Southern
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 8 1st Half 15:48
Notre Dame 7
Texas Tech 2 1st Half 17:33
Oklahoma 0
Oregon State 7:00 PM
Arizona State
Morehead State 7:00 PM
Austin Peay
Drake 7:00 PM
Lehigh 7:00 PM
Rice 7:00 PM
Missouri State 7:00 PM
Illinois State
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South Dakota St
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Southern Ill
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Georgia Tech 8:00 PM
Miss State 8:00 PM
Ole Miss
Clemson 8:00 PM
NC State
Indiana 8:00 PM
Kansas 8:00 PM
Oregon 9:00 PM
Air Force 9:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 10:00 PM
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
UMBC 28 1st Half 4:45
Binghamton 24
Akron 21 1st Half 2:04
Ohio U 32
Ball State 34 1st Half 3:41
Miami-Ohio 13
Memphis 18 1st Half 3:58
Cincinnati 17
East Carolina 8 1st Half 7:41
(2) Connecticut 33
Murray State 25 1st Half 1:46
Eastern Illinois 28
Kent State 24 1st Half 3:37
Central Michigan 31
UT Martin 40 1st Half 2:25
Tennessee St 28
Eastern Michigan 31 1st Half 4:30
Western Mich 30
Bucknell 30 1st Half 1:29
Lehigh 30
Indiana 23 1st Half 3:06
Michigan State 28
Colgate 34 1st Half 4:30
Lafayette 17
Fordham 31 1st Half 1:02
Davidson 22
Duquesne 23 1st Half 3:10
St Bonaventure 18
George Mason 24 1st Half 3:39
VA Commonwealth 29
Detroit 14 1st Half 3:07
Youngstown St 27
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
SMU 7:00 PM
Oklahoma St 7:00 PM
Kansas State
West Virginia 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
Denver 7:00 PM
South Dakota
Northwestern St 7:00 PM
Central Arkansas
Austin Peay 7:00 PM
Kansas 7:00 PM
Iowa State
Bowling Green 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
Penn State 7:00 PM
San Jose St 8:00 PM
Air Force
Boise State 8:00 PM
Colorado State
Utah State 8:00 PM
San Diego State 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Nevada 9:00 PM
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