"Detroit plays in the Eastern Time Zone, they should be in the Eastern Conference"
But no one that makes this argument has an answer for the fact if all Eastern Time Zone teams played in the Eastern Conference, there would be a 17 team Eastern Conference (go ahead, check a map... Fine I'll spoil it for you, the current 15 Eastern Conference teams plus Detroit and Columbus). Though the news that Atlanta may be moving to Winnipeg has sparked this debate again.
I have seen in blogs that there is a secret deal that the NHL has agreed to let the Red Wings move East in the event of an opening, but have not seen anyone claim a credible source on this. Personally, I don't think the NHL should be too eager to separate Detroit from Chicago, St. Louis and Columbus. I think Nashville should be the team to move to the Southeast if it happens (but that's a tangent for another post).
But as usual, most Detroit fans show their self-centeredness in this argument, they think this logic should only apply to Detroit. Make way for the Red Wings, Detroit obviously deserves to be in the East more than whatever other two (perhaps soon to be one) teams would be moved/stay in the Western Conf. There can't possibly be any downsides that outweigh the benefits of having Detroit in the East, right?
Here are the downsides with moving Detroit to the east:
1) Which team moves west? (Ostensibly Atlanta will if they move to Winnipeg)
2) If Atlanta moves, does Detroit move in the Southeast until there's an opening in one of the more northern Eastern Conference Divisions (maybe the Islanders if the arena falls through?).
3) If Detroit doesn't move into the southeast, which Atlantic or Northeast division team do you move to the southeast (does it matter?, the Red Wings obviously deserve it more).
Though I'll admit, people are starting to point these issues out (I heard Wyshynski mention this on Puck Daddy Radio Recently)
Don't get me wrong, I think Detroit and Columbus get pretty screwed in the current alignment, as does Minnesota and Dallas to a lesser extent. My point is stopping the argument at what timezone a team plays in is asinine. There has to me more reason and better solution than which side of the Eastern/Central line Detroit lies.
Detroit and Columbus play 16 road games two or more time zones away (by the way Minnesota plays 11 and Dallas plays 13 depending on whether or not they catch Phoenix in Daylight Savings).
So in the interest of proposing something helpful, I will have another post today that will include a realistic realignment plan that would help the four teams above, and may mitigate the disadvantages Detroit and the others have playing in the West.
(UPDATE: the realignment plan I propose is now up)