By Allan Muir
Mark Chipman isn’t a recluse, but the owner of the Winnipeg Jets doesn’t exactly seek out the limelight, either. So his appearance on Hockey Night in Canada Friday was a nice get for the show.
Host Scott Oake killed a couple minutes chatting with Chipman before he finally got around to the question that matters: realignment. He asked “Jesus of the Prairies” if he thought the team would be in a conference more friendly for travel and for more natural rivalries.
“Yeah, I’m quite certain that’ll be the case,” said Chipman, who has been deeply involved in the process. “I’m not quite certain how it will line up. I suspect it will be much like what we agreed to a little over a year ago. We’ll be playing down in the Central time zone which we were excited about, not only for the travel, but there was to be a couple of Original 6 teams in that conference. Playing against Minnesota, I think we could develop a really good rivalry as well.”
The December 2011 plan would have seen the Jets grouped with Detroit, Columbus, Nashville, St. Louis, Chicago, Minnesota, and Dallas. That proposal was scuttled by the NHLPA, forcing the Jets to remain in the geographically remote Southeast division for this shortened season.
The NHL and NHLPA are expected to resume talks on realignment next week, with sources suggesting a vote by owners to approve a slightly altered version of the 2011 plan could come as soon as Feb. 25.