After months of speculation and a long-held desire to move as far east as possible, the Dallas Stars have emerged as a huge winner in the NHL's total overhaul of their team alignments.
The league announced Tuesday that it was scrapping the two-conference, six-division system in favor of four unique conferences created to appease travel concerns and time zone issues for the Stars (who are currently relegated to a division filled with Pacific Time Zone clubs) as well as a host of other concerns (competitive balance, historic rivalries, the saga of the Phoenix Coyotes, etc.) across the NHL.
New owner Tom Gaglardi gushed to the media that his franchise got exactly what they wanted:
"I'm not sure we're not the biggest winner in the whole league," Gaglardi said in a phone interview early Tuesday morning. "I feel pretty wonderful. It's something I've chased ever since I started to chase ownership of the Stars. It's a great day for Dallas."
What the Stars got was a reprieve from the west coast: The most notable aspect of the realignment for Dallas is that they'll be grouped with teams closer to the Metroplex in the Central Time Zone, meaning countless puck drops of 9 p.m. or later local time will be largely eliminated. Dallas will join Nashville, Detroit, Chicago, Minnesota, Columbus, St. Louis and Winnipeg, with each team playing six times a year in a "central" grouping (the conferences have not yet been named). Contrast that with the Stars' current home in the Pacific Division with San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Phoenix, all of whom will go to the "west" grouping.