Earlier this evening, Larry Brooks, the New York Post Rangers beat writer and great buddies with John Tortorella, posted this tweet, mentioning a swap of Columbus and Winnipeg for this season to allow a conference-only schedule to complete a shortened season.
Let's clear up a few things first.
First, the NHL and NHLPA first need to come to an agreement on a new CBA before we can talk about a season, shortened, cancelled, whatever.
Second of all, Brooks is connected, obivously. I still wonder about the authenticity of this tweet though. Is it something the league is seriously considering, or was it a passing remark, tasty enough to grow some legs?
The idea of teams playing in-conference only in a shortened season is another issue that remains in theory only. It makes sense, if we're talking a 48-game season for the emphasis to be on teams in each conference duking it out for the chance to face the team from the other conference in the Stanley Cup finals. In fact, given everything, the though of East and West not meeting until the Finals is downright awesome.
Brooks goes on to say that Columbus would move to the Southeast Division and Winnipeg would move to the Central for this season only, pending further realignment in the future.
My first reaction to the notion is excitement. Columbus in the southeast means no west coast trips. It means regular viewings of Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos and the Staals. Mind you, the flipside is that Columbus has to face these stars, but nonetheless I love the idea.
The Jackets would be at a slight advantage from a pro scouting point of view. The other four teams in the Southeast have the books written on each other, but would have to start a new one for the Jackets. The Central division is loaded, whereas the Southeast is unpredictable, but on the rise, overall. From a standings point of view, you can't help but think that the prospects for the Jackets finishing higher than dead last are better in the Southeast than the Central.
From a fan standpoint, as I mentioned earlier, the main benefits are no late games and the chance to see some awesome young players on a regular basis. For these reasons alone, I hope there's fire where this smoke is coming from.