Skip to main content

Who goes East when the Jets return?

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

What’s that, you say? How do I come up with a different lead-in paragraph to THN’s mailbag each and every Friday? Simple, I pretend you’re asking me a question, type it out and provide an answer. Then, if the mood strikes, finish it off with a rhetorical question for you to ponder. Crazy, huh?

Adam, first off, thanks for a great column. I was wondering how you think Atlanta’s relocation will affect the other teams in terms of their division? Assuming Winnipeg is a Western Conference team, I assume that Detroit would be the team to move into the East. But there are people who say it would be Columbus. Who do you think moves? And what becomes of the other divisions in the NHL?

Geoff Mellor, Oshawa Ont.


Scuttlebutt currently has it that there will be no reshuffling of the NHL’s divisions in time for the 2011-12 season and that Winnipeg therefore will have to play the year in the Southeast Division.

Beyond that, I don’t know that there’s any clear route the NHL will go in terms of re-jigging divisions. Some believe the Red Wings have the inside track to move east and that’s my view as well. I think the Wings history within the league, as well as their status as one of the more successful franchises, gives them the right of first refusal.

But as I recently wrote, I also think the league would be well advised to scrap divisions altogether (while continuing to set up the schedule so that teams would continue to play traditional divisional rivals as often as they do now). Most people I talk to look only to see if their favorite team is in a playoff position, not where they are in relation to one of four other rivals.

Hey Adam, How do you think the Canucks got so good?

Patrick Fioriti, Thunder Bay, Ont.

Hey Patrick,

In many ways, I think the Canucks have most benefitted from organizational patience. The Sedin Twins have been NHLers for a full decade now and over the years there have been many calls to either trade them or allow them to leave via free agency. Same goes with the bulk of the organization’s long-serving players (including Alex Burrows, Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa). Management – including former GMs Brian Burke and David Nonis – were unwilling to sell off those assets for short-term solutions. That definitely counts as a huge component of their success.

Other than that, I think the addition of a few veterans (including Manny Malhotra before his serious eye injury, Raffi Torres and Chris Higgins) has given the Canucks even more depth than they had in previous seasons. Patience, solid drafting/development and depth usually mean an NHL team will do well and the Canucks are proving that to be true.

Adam, with Brian Rafalski retiring, doesn't that mean his salary will go against the salary cap next year due to the 35-year-or-older rule?

Ian Carter, Halifax, N.S.


Because Rafalski signed his contract in 2007 when he was 34 years old, his contract does not fall under the 35-and-older clause of the collective bargaining agreement. Thus, his $6-million salary won’t count against the cap and gives Detroit more than $18 million in available cap space (including the expiring contract of Nicklas Lidstrom).

Hi Adam. Trying to get my mind off the impending doom around here, so I thought I'd ask something that I have wondered about. The only thing I do not like about the final, the Stanley Cup winning game specifically, is seeing Mr. Bettman present the Cup. He grates on my last nerve. Why can't the teams pick the person that presents the Cup to them, i.e., a former player? It seems that if they won the Cup, they should have the spoils. Cheers,

David Reed, Atlanta

Hi David.

I like your idea very much. In fact, I like it so much, I’ve been making the same argument for the past few years.

Each and every year – and it doesn’t matter where the Cup final is – the Cup-awarding ceremony loses a bit of its luster when Bettman comes out with the trophy and is mercilessly booed by the crowd. Taking the focus off of him, and putting it on the players (either by having the captain of the previous year’s Cup winner or by having it handed out by a beloved veteran of the winning franchise), is an idea the NHL should have adopted long ago. Here’s hoping the league comes to its senses.

Hey Adam, I've been wondering why the Thrashers cannot win. They have Evander Kane, Nik Antropov, Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler and Andrew Ladd to score; to defend they have Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Zach Bogosian and Johnny Oduya; and Ondrej Pavelec and Chris Mason between the pipes. Do you think they will do better in years to come?

Lachen Reid, Minneapolis, Minn.

Hey Lachen,

Did you see my comments above about Vancouver? They apply here as well, which is to say that, yes, I think the organization has a solid young core that needs to experience and learn more before taking the next competitive step.

Now that it appears the Thrashers are heading to Winnipeg, it won’t be very easy for them to augment their young group with high-caliber veteran unrestricted free agents, so much of their improvement, at least in the short term, will have to come from within. But if they can lean on each other for long enough and produce results, eventually there will be accomplished vets who want to jump on board.

Follow Adam's hockey tweets at, and his non-hockey observations at

Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to His blog appears Thursdays and his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.


New Jersey Devils

New Jersey Devils' Play-By-Play Man Enjoys His Rookie Ride

After calling 32 different sports since 2016, Bill Spaulding found his place with the New Jersey Devils. And he couldn't have arrived at a better time.

Brock Boeser

Are the Vancouver Canucks Closer to Trading Brock Boeser?

After a week of speculation on right winger Brock Boeser's future, the rumor roundup looks at teams across the NHL he's been linked to.

Noah Ostlund

Reacting to Team Sweden's 2023 World Junior Roster

Tony Ferrari takes a look at the key players and key omissions after Team Sweden released its roster for the World Junior Championship.