NHL is realigned and raring to go

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 1, 2013 - 6:35 AM

When the league drops the puck for the 2013-14 season on Tuesday, old teams will be in new places. And that’s good news for the Wild.

 

– Blake Wheeler remembers Xcel Energy Center’s ice shaking under his skates, and this wasn’t for some playoff game.

It was Feb. 16, 2012 — the only time the Winnipeg Jets have visited the Wild’s home turf during the regular season since relocating from Atlanta.

“Our fans seemed to come in busloads,” said Wheeler, the former Breck School star and Gophers forward who now plays for Winnipeg. “We must have had 5,000, 10,000 fans it felt like in the crowd. It was so loud. It feels like this rivalry is budding, and with both teams in such close proximity, we’re going to see a lot of fans making that trek back and forth.”

Much to the delight of the Wild, which had to constantly cross time zones and borders its first 12 seasons in the Northwest Division, and the Jets, who were forced to continue in the Eastern Conference’s Southeast Division for two seasons, the NHL has realigned.

Of course, Wild fans might be subjected to more nonstop, raucous “Go Jets Go!” chants in their own barn because of it. Jets fans even came to the X in droves during last month’s exhibition game.

“Canadian fans are crazy and people can’t get tickets up in Winnipeg, so they’re going to drive down to Minny to watch games,” Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien said.

The Wild moves into the Central Division and faces Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg four or five times a season.

At least through the 2015-16 season, the NHL has gone from six divisions to four, with 14 teams in the Western Conference and 16 in the Eastern Conference.

Five teams are most excited by the move — the Wild, Jets and Dallas Stars, who used to play in the Pacific Division with Phoenix and the three California teams, and the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets, who move to the more geographically-logical Eastern Conference.

The Pacific Division now consists of Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose and Vancouver. The Metropolitan (already dubbed Metro) Division houses Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, the Islanders, the Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington, while the new Atlantic Division includes Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Toronto.

The top three teams in each division make the playoffs along with two “wild cards” per conference. The first two rounds of the playoffs will be played inside one’s division.

“I think it’ll take us awhile to figure it all out, but it brings the NHL back to where we used to be in the 1980s when those division rivalries created a lot of animosity between teams,” Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher said. “How it impacts every team is different because the schedule is completely imbalanced as well as how you make the playoffs, but for us, it’s unbelievable because of the travel.”

Big draws

Wild fans should love it. First, every NHL team will come to St. Paul at least once. Second, there will be a lot fewer road games starting after 7:30 p.m. Central Time.

Fourteen of the Wild’s 41 road games this season start after 7:30 p.m. local time. To put that in perspective, 14 of the Wild’s 24 road games during last season’s condensed schedule due to the lockout began after 7:30 p.m.

From a player perspective, the wear and tear should be less. There’s less traveling west, less crossing Canadian customs into Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, less arriving back in Minnesota from road trips at 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning.

The Wild plays 68 games in the Eastern or Central time zones this season and don’t play west of the Central time zone until Nov. 30 in Denver. In 2011-12, the Wild didn’t even play a road game in its own time zone until Dec. 13 at Winnipeg.

  • related content

  • Hybrid icing approved for the upcoming season

    Monday September 30, 2013

    After years of campaigning by former Wild defenseman Kurtis Foster, the NHL has finally adopted hybrid icing

  • Chart: The realigned NHL

    Tuesday October 1, 2013

    WESTERN CONFERENCEPacific DivisionAnaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, VancouverCentral DivisionWild, Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Nashville, St. Louis, WinnipegEASTERN CONFERENCEMetropolitan...

  • NHL 2013-14 preview: Around the league

    Monday September 30, 2013

    Senators change starsLongtime Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson scoffed at a contract extension to remain in Ottawa for a chance...

  • Russo's Eastern Conference predictions

    Monday September 30, 2013

    MICHAEL RUSSO’S EASTERN CONFERENCE PREDICTIONS1. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS2013: 36-12-0, 1st in East (72 points)• Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury broke down yet again...

  • Russo's picks for the playoffs

    Monday September 30, 2013

    RUSSO PICKS THE PLAYOFFSEastern Conference champion: OttawaWestern Conference champion: St. LouisStanley Cup champion: Ottawa. Wait ’til Daniel Alfredsson discovers the...

  • Russo's Western Conference predictions

    Monday September 30, 2013

    MICHAEL RUSSO’S WESTERN CONFERENCE PREDICTIONS1. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS2013: 36-7-5, 1st in NHL (77 points)• No Stanley Cup hangover for Patrick Kane,...

  • Wild notes: Koivu loosens up

    Monday September 30, 2013

    DULUTH – The Wild captain is relaxed, happy and smiling. It’s been that way throughout training camp, quite the contrast...

  • The Wild's Zach Parise, right and St. Louis' Alexander Steen

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City - LP: B. Finnegan 4 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: Y. Petit 11
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Buffalo 2 FINAL
San Jose 1
Boston 4 FINAL
Toronto 1
NY Rangers 1 FINAL
Montreal 3
New Jersey 3 FINAL(OT)
Ottawa 2
Dallas 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 7
Detroit 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Chicago 2 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL
Nashville 0
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Minnesota 7
Florida 1 FINAL(OT)
Arizona 2
Washington 3 FINAL
Calgary 1
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
BYU 30 FINAL
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 21 FINAL
Rice 41
UAB 17 FINAL
Arkansas 45
Rutgers 24 FINAL
(16) Nebraska 42
Maryland 7 FINAL
Wisconsin 52
Texas 0 FINAL
(11) Kansas State 23
Minnesota 24 FINAL
Illinois 28
Memphis 48 FINAL
SMU 10
North Carolina 28 FINAL
Virginia 27
San Jose St 31 FINAL
Navy 41
Northern Ill 28 FINAL
Eastern Mich 17
(25) UCLA 40 FINAL
Colorado 37
Akron 21 FINAL
Ball State 35
Massachusetts 35 FINAL
Toledo 42
Ohio U 21 FINAL
Western Mich 42
Ga Southern 69 FINAL
Georgia State 31
Kent State 3 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 10
Oregon State 14 FINAL
Stanford 38
Fla Atlantic 16 FINAL
(23) Marshall 35
Louisiana Tech 31 FINAL
Southern Miss 20
(1) Miss State 45 FINAL
Kentucky 31
Georgia Tech 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 28
(22) West Virginia 34 FINAL
Oklahoma State 10
Texas Tech 27 FINAL
(10) TCU 82
Michigan 11 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 35
Boston College 23 FINAL
Wake Forest 17
Central Mich 20 FINAL
Buffalo 14
Vanderbilt 14 FINAL
Missouri 24
Old Dominion 51 FINAL
Western Ky 66
UNLV 20 FINAL
Utah State 34
Temple 14 FINAL
UCF 34
(15) Arizona 59 FINAL
Washington St 37
Texas-El Paso 34 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 0
Wyoming 31 FINAL
Colorado State 45
Syracuse 6 FINAL
(21) Clemson 16
Texas State 22 FINAL
ULM 18
(3) Ole Miss 7 FINAL
(24) LSU 10
(4) Alabama 34 FINAL
Tennessee 20
So Carolina 35 FINAL
(5) Auburn 42
(13) Ohio State 31 FINAL
Penn State 24
(20) USC 21 FINAL
(19) Utah 24
(14) Arizona State 24 FINAL
Washington 10
Nevada 9 3rd Qtr 4:20
Hawaii 10
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(18) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Texas State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico St
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
(20) USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(5) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(1) Miss State
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(6) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(7) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(15) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(19) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(14) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
Seattle 2
D.C. 1 FINAL
Montreal 1
Toronto FC 0 FINAL
New England 1
Portland 2 FINAL
FC Dallas 0
Colorado 0 FINAL
Vancouver FC 1
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 24 FINAL
Toronto 26
Brt Columbia 28 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite Wild player?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close