The Atlanta Thrashers' relocation to Winnipeg and rebranding as the Jets means a team in central Canada will play the 2011/12 NHL season as part of the Southeast Division, joining the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Washington Capitals.
Clearly, something is wrong with this picture.
In light of that, the NHL has discussed realigning its conferences and divisions, perhaps by shifting the Jets from the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference, in the future. Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero, who recently attended an NHL Board of Governors meeting in which realignment was a hot topic, discussed NHL realignment with Seth Rorabaugh of the Post-Gazette.
Shero says "every team seems to have their ideas about where they should be," and confirms that the Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Nashville Predators have each asked to move from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference. Geographically, those teams have strong cases for wanting to move. But as Shero points out, realigning conferences and divisions could eliminate some rivalries, which complicates the situation. "Rivalries are important," he says.
The good news for the Penguins and their fans is this: Shero says there's "nothing concrete" when it comes to Pittsburgh moving out of the Atlantic Division or Eastern Conference. "I like our rivalries we’ve established over time, especially Philadelphia," Shero says. "I’m sure Philadelphia feels the same way about the rivalry with us."