So after a two-week holiday hiatus (say that ten times fast) the Other 29 returns. In this week we are going to solely focus on the one thing going on around the league that has the biggest effect on Winnipeg.

Direct Benefit to Winnipeg

Of course that is the NHLPA blocking the four conference realignment. This will mean Winnipeg will play next year in the Southeast division.

Mark Chipman said all the right things in his response to the news using words such as disappointed not frustrated and being a good soldier for the NHL by not making waves and saying it won’t be too bad.

The truth of the matter is for a young team that has a way to go before being widely considered a Stanley Cup contender should be happy to stay in a division with Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay and Washington. As opposed to fighting for four playoff spots in a conference with Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, Nashville and Minnesota all of which are ahead of the Jets in points so far this year.

Only Columbus has fewer points than the Jets in their would be conference. In contrast only Florida has more points than the Jets in the Southeast (Washington does have two games in hand and only one point less).

Another season in the Southeast could end up being the best thing for these young Jets as in two years time we should be able to expect them to compete with the top teams both at home and on the road.

Other Benefits to Winnipeg

As much as the travel burdens can hurt the fact is the schedule makers will likely give the Jets a schedule with longer road trips and longer home stands much how it was this season. There can be no better cure for a team to get things together then a long home stand. Also there is something to be said for the team building that takes place on the road.

The other side of it is that the other teams from the East will have to travel West and could get lumped into back to back games with another Western team, one has to wonder if the Jets home record is party as good because teams are a little bit tired when they arrive into town.

The last benefit is that when the new realignment is finalized its likely to address the biggest concern of having 8 teams in two conferences and 7 in the other two. Whatever the end result is it will likely make it more reasonable for Winnipeg to become a playoff team.

Radical Solution

So rather than talk about what was wrong and what minor tweaks could be done to resolve fairness issues I want to share with you a radical solution.

When you look at things as they are currently you have 16 teams in the Eastern time zone, 6 teams in Central, 4 teams in Mountain and 4 teams in Pacific. There is an obvious benefit to playing in your time zone for tv revenue but a clear numbers difference.

30 is only split up evenly if divided by 3, 5, 6 or 10. There is no way to have fair division while keep the majority to their time zone. But there is way to have equal chance to make the playoffs, play a majority of your games in your time zone and still have a home and home with each team.

It’s a little concept I like to call time zone scheduling. Every team will play a home and home against every team. After that they will play primarily teams in their time zone at the end of the article is a break down of how the schedule would work.

Now I know the biggest question is how do the standings work? Well there are three possibilities that I have come up with. One is simple top 16 teams in the league make the playoffs, reseed after each round with highest seed playing lowest seed and so on.

While this wouldn’t give the rivalry affect the league was going for in their previous attempt it does open up all possibilities for any team to play any team in the cup finals. It also ensures everyone has as equal a chance to make the playoffs.

The second option would be similar to the East/West breakdown we have now except it would have 16 in the East and 14 in the West. The top 8 in both would get in, however if a 9th place team had more points than 8th in the opposite conference they would take their playoff spot.

The third and most radical would be grouping teams into 6 groups of 5 with top four teams making the playoffs.

3rd and 4th in the groups would play a best of five series to fill out the bottom six spots in the playoffs. After the playoff the teams will be reseeded and 1st will play 16th etc.

The groups would not be based on time zones but would be based on the previous years standings. (ie 1,7,13,19,25 in one group).

Break Down

Home and Home vs everyone (1-1 = 58 games)
Eastern plays each team in their group 4 additional times (12) and each team in other eastern time zone groups 1 more time (12)
Central plays each team in time zone 4 additional times (20) and the teams in Mountain time zone 1 more time (4)
Mountain plays each team in time zone 4 additional times (12) and the teams in Central time zone 1 more time (6) and the teams in Pacific time zone 1 more time (4) and two teams in the Pacific 1 more time (2)
Pacific plays each team in time zone 6 additional times (18) and the teams in Mountain time zone 1 more time (4) and 2 teams in the Mountain 1 more time (2)

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Jeff Stevenson is a co-founder of and co-host of the popular Jets Hockey Podcast. He grew up in Winnipeg, MB and became very passionate about sports, hockey and the Jets. Now Jeff is proud and honored to help bring news and information about the Winnipeg Jets to fans around the world.