Cosmetically, of course, this was good news. No more annoying tips out west and late nights spent waiting for games to start in California multiple times a year, which will only help. The Red Wings will also get to play their traditional rivals in Toronto, Montreal and Boston more regularly, which is a welcome diversion celebrating the team’s past. Games against Buffalo, Ottawa and Tampa Bay will be exciting as well.
At the same time, all of those teams in Detroit’s division have improved and done various amounts of winning lately, including the usual laughinstock Maple Leafs this year. In this new division, the only team you can count on consistently being subpar are the Florida Panthers and Maple Leafs. Tampa Bay has star power with Steven Stamkos. Boston rolls four solid lines with excellent goaltending. Buffalo’s got an owner always dying to make moves, and Ottawa might have the next Nicklas Lidstrom in Erik Karlsson. That’s not even to mention games against Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington, New York and New Jersey.
With this setup, it’s clear the Red Wings have to get serious about improving themselves fast. The Eastern Conference has been the bigger challenge to win recently, with plenty of depth at the top. It won’t be a cakewalk for Detroit to get a high seed every season, especially if the 2013 edition of the team makes their debut in this new setup. Divisionally, they’ll face a serious challenge every night offensively and defensively. The conference as a whole will be a battle.
Whether it be during this season’s trade deadline or next offseason, Ken Holland has to do something dramatic to fix his team and create buzz. If not, the Red Wings face an even more uncertain future. As far as excitement goes, the franchise is already lagging behind severely in 2013. The NHL seems to be passing them by more by the day with every exciting finish and more compelling team performing on the big stage.
Does Detroit’s front office have a pulse anymore or a flair for the dramatic? We had better find out soon in anticipation of this big move, lest Red Wings could become one of the least compelling stories in the Eastern Conference. Fans might not want to believe it, but they might even be challenging Florida, Montreal Buffalo for the basement if Holland and Mike Ilitch don’t combine to step up and make something positive happen soon. Detroit needs to make roster moves and waves in anticipation of the shift they’ve wanted forever.
With yesterday’s realignment news, the hockey world is changing forever. It’s time for the Red Wings’ franchise to step up and be properly prepared for success in their big move. Is the team finally ready to move forward and create a new future?
Soon, we’ll find out.
Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax