Chicago Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz is heading back from the NHL's Board of Governors meeting in Pebble Beach, Calif., a happy man.
Wirtz is quite pleased with the league's new radical realignment, which was voted upon and approved Monday night. Wirtz on Tuesday cited the fact the Hawks would still have traditional rivalries with the Red Wings, Blues and Wild with the new configuration, travel to the West Coast would be limited, TV ratings will benefit from not as many late starts and that the other five Original Six teams are guaranteed to play in the United Center at least once per season.
"I think it’s good for the league and selfishly I think it's good for us," Wirtz said Tuesday after the meetings had concluded. "I like the idea that we don’t have to go out to the West Coast more than once. I’m sure the league will work the schedule so when we have to go out to Los Angeles and San Jose and and the teams out there you can do it on the same swing out.
"The time zones are key, too. If you can limit the numbers of two hours differences on times for the fans watching away games is terrific. (And) it can't hurt our TV ratings, so it’s good."
The four conferences have yet to be named, but the Hawks are grouped in Conference B, which contains the Blue Jackets, Stars, Red Wings, Wild, Predators, Blues and Jets.
"We’ll have traditional rivalries that we had years ago," said Wirtz, who joined the Board of Governors this season. "Dallas will be great because that’s the old Minnesota, obviously, and we have the new Minnesota, too. And Detroit is in there and St. Louis. It will be like the days of old when we had those great rivaries with the North Stars. What it’s really going to do is you're going to see teams enough that you won’t need a program to know who you’re playing."
The other conferences are Conference A with the Ducks, Flames, Avalanche, Oilers, Kings, Coyotes, Sharks and Canucks; Conferece C with the Bruins, Sabres, Panthers, Canadiens, Senators, Lightning and Maple Leafs and Conference D which includes the Hurricanes, Devils, Islanders, Rangers, Flyers, Penguins and Capitals.
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