Blog Entry

Wings owner Ilitch: Bettman promised move to East

Posted on: September 30, 2011 10:57 am
Edited on: September 30, 2011 11:44 am

By Brian Stubits

If the Detroit Red Wings aren't in the Eastern Conference next season, there is going to be one angry owner.

Ever since the Atlanta Thrashers became the Winnipeg Jets and moved to Manitoba, realignment became an inevitability. And since the beginning of time (OK, the creation of the conferences), Detroit has wanted to be in the East. The long plane rides and late-night games that go past midnight back home aren't necessarily ideal.

Mike Ilitch, the Red Wings owner, has been incredibly vocal about his team's desire to move. Now he says he downright expects it because Gary Bettman promised him as much. In a Q&A with Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News, Ilitch explained the conversation.

Q. OK, once and for all, are you gonna get the Wings out of the Western Conference or not?
A. The commissioner (Gary Bettman) promised me I was next. We even had a meeting over lunch this past season, and he had all his people here, and he goes, 'Yeah, I promised Mike he'd be the next one to go in the Eastern Conference.' So I expect to be in next year. Jimmy D (Devellano) is on the phone every other week reminding them.

(By the way, Ilitch also said they are working on a new arena to replace the Joe, saying "we're going to have a new arena.")

My guess is that might have been a case of Ilitch hearing what he wanted to hear. It's certainly possible that Bettman made such a promise to him, but I'm not ready to go all-in on that being correct. What's more, no matter if Bettman promises it, it still has to be approved by a 2/3 majority of the board of governors. Now whatever Bettman and crew say usually goes, but it's still not a guarantee.

Remember, there will be a lot of opposition to the Red Wings from the teams in the West. No team in the conference draws as well as Detroit on the road. When you start talking money, people get a little more serious, and defensive.

The more I think about Detroit joining the East, the more I begin to believe they might just tear up the current format of six divisions. There's no real way Detroit slides seamlessly into the East. Do they just replace Atlanta in the Southeast? Doesn't seem right. Maybe you move Pittsburgh to the Southeast, Detroit to the Atlantic? I can't imagine Pittsburgh would like being broken up with the Flyers, Rangers, Devils and Islanders one bit.

Instead, if Ilitch is under the right belief and the Wings are flying East, I think you'd see a scenario where they bring a team, likely the Columbus Blue Jackets, with them. You then have the destruction of six division, instead having four. The only thing is that leaves you with two divisions of eight and two with seven, but with a return to the balanced schedule, it helps things.

Photo: Getty Images

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Since: Mar 17, 2009
Posted on: September 30, 2011 3:31 pm

Wings owner Ilitch: Bettman promised move to East

Not Mikes best picture

Since: Dec 23, 2007
Posted on: September 30, 2011 3:29 pm

Wings owner Ilitch: Bettman promised move to East

Its all about television sets and how many televisions are shut off when the Wings head out west.  Just moronic that it has gone on this long. 

Since: Apr 30, 2007
Posted on: September 30, 2011 3:25 pm

Wings owner Ilitch: Bettman promised move to East

@ goalsdiehere -

Quit whining!  Seriously.  We want the Wings in the East so we can see away games that don't start at 10:30pm local time.  It's not that difficult to understand.

Since: Apr 18, 2008
Posted on: September 30, 2011 3:19 pm

Wings owner Ilitch: Bettman promised move to East

Original Six argument is stupid.  If you are going to go all the way back to 1945ish, then why not go back to 1935 when there were 10 teams in the NHL?  Just because some marketing guy coined the phrase "Original Six" doesn't mean that it was the original six.  None of us were around to watch the original six play hockey so why in the world would you care.  Stop being sheep.

This is about one thing and one thing  We as fans care about the teams travel but the Wings don't want to go to the East because of the travel, they want to go to make more cash.  Only 2 teams in the western conference traveled less than the Wings last year and they are the Jackets and the Preds so no more crying about travel.

Too many people vomiting in this thread about how tough the Wings have it and how the divisions should be done, we don't get a voice.  No one cares what we think.  I will watch my Sharks no matter what as im sure most of the rest of you here will do.


Since: May 15, 2007
Posted on: September 30, 2011 3:17 pm

Wings owner Ilitch: Bettman promised move to East

Was a bit confused for a few seconds there GoBlue Wink

Since: Jun 19, 2011
Posted on: September 30, 2011 3:17 pm

Wings owner Ilitch: Bettman promised move to East

I have a better idea let's just put all of the original six teams into one division and add Ottowa to this since they at one time were one of the original teams. After that do the division by region simple, I rather as a Bruins fan watch the Bruins play the Original Six team more then them playing the Sabers,Flyers,Pens ect ect ect.

Since: Aug 11, 2008
Posted on: September 30, 2011 3:11 pm

Wings owner Ilitch: Bettman promised move to East

Since I did not grow up in MI. and have not been a hockey fan as long as all of you guys I am a bit ambivalent about this one. The first thing I hate is if we move not playing the Hawks 6 times a year, plus living in the south I could drive to games in Nashville, St. Louis, and Dallas. However I would love being able to play more Original 6 teams on a regular basis. The same thing is happening to my college football team in the SEC though we will not be the ones moving.

Since: May 23, 2010
Posted on: September 30, 2011 3:01 pm

Wings owner Ilitch: Bettman promised move to East

My bad is AceRothstien who needs to reed my comments.  Yours, brother, are spot on!

Since: May 23, 2010
Posted on: September 30, 2011 2:58 pm

Wings owner Ilitch: Bettman promised move to East

KeepitRed...way to crunch the mileage.  You are the man!  The difference here is that if you play Florida once, from the farthest point in the conference away (Montreal), you are done.  The next closest point would be the Carolina Hurricanes, about half that distance.  Florida, worst case example, could have to play Boston, Ottawa and Montreal.  Using your math, Florida would still spend 8 hours less on airplanes through three rounds than Detroit or Chicago playing Vancouver, San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim.  Look at the last few years...these long distance series happen with shocking regularity.  It is truly a competitive disadvantage.

Since: May 23, 2010
Posted on: September 30, 2011 2:50 pm

Wings owner Ilitch: Bettman promised move to East

hoeckeybob...You are still missing the fundamental point that these two teams, Columbus and Nashville, came into the NHL as expansion teams in the Western Conference.  The ownership groups accepted that as a term for entry into the league.  So, in this larger conversation, their opinions really don't matter.  They wanted into the NHL so badly that they didn't care about being placed into the Western Conference.  Detroit and Chicago, two of the fabled Original Six, were yanked away from their historic rivals.  They play the Bruins, Canadiens, Rangers and Maple Leafs once a year.  What a shame.

Of course I could try and look at this your way...sure would love to see more Columbus vs. Toronto and Nashville vs. Boston.  That would really be something wouldn't it!

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