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NHL Realignment - Could the Leafs be headed West?

Craig Leipold, owner of the Wild, leaked the Central division composition for the 2012-13 season in a local Minneapolis radio show. His exact quote is here. He does not seem too confident about the fate of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Red Wiings, being in the Eastern Time Zone, have expressed for years a desire to move from the Western Conference to the East. It appears they are finally going to get their wish. But the same issues they have, also plauge the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Jackets also have a card to pull the Red Wings don't. They are a team that could use the help of less travel for their bottom line and also the friendlier T.V. time zones, as they struggle to grow their market. As a team under a bit of financial duress, they could use some help.

Is it possible for the NHL to move both Columbus and Detroit to the East?

It is but the question that immediately arises is what is the other team that would come West? When you go through the line-up, the strongest candidate is the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Why after the jump...

Why does a Western Conference Toronto Maple Leafs work?

Reason 1: Toronto was in the Western Conference up until the 1998-99 season. History shows us many years with the Leafs in the Western Conference and its Campbell Conference predecessor beforehand. If both Detroit and Columbus go East, Toronto is the leading candidate to come West based on past alignments.

Reason 2: The birth of a new Canadian hockey rivalry with the Winnipeg Jets.

Reason 3: Keeps 2 original six teams in the West.

Reason 4: Toronto's fan base will not fret over a single hour later start in games and it appears at this early stage that the 4 divisions will be structured along time zones primarily.

Reason 5: Toronto might actually make the playoffs in a Mid-West division of Dallas, Minnesota, St.Louis, Chicago, Nashville, Winnipeg. Seriously though they will be in the 7 team division, not the 8 team division in the West and they will feel better about their playoff odds because of it, indefinitely. Any team that has the option between a 7 or 8 team division will prefer the 7 team one.

Reason 6: The richest team in the NHL has no issues with extra costs associated with travel. They have no issues about growing their fan base. In fact visiting 4 Canadian teams instead of just two probably suits them fine. Especially since Leafs fans are everywhere in Canada.

Reason 7: The old Habs / Leaf rivalry has been a tad one-sided since 1967.

Reason 8: Leaf fans will be able to mention to Canuck fans that at least they have won a Cup, even if it was 44 years ago.

Reason 9: Leaf fans will be able to tell Oiler fans they have won more Cups.

Reason 10: Leaf fans will be able to ask Calgary fans to make more trades with them.

So the Divisions will theoretically look like this.


Mid West

The Atlantic

The NorthEast



Tampa Bay


San Jose













St. Louis






New Jersey







Thoughts about the Toronto Maple Leafs as a Divisional Rival? Thoughts about them moving to the West?