Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Pens talking with KC (the sunshine band was not invited)

Hot off the wire today (ok, so it's not so much a wire. it's a computer... but it's connected by wires, right?) comes a story from Pennsylvania's more fledgling hockey franchise. Owners of the Pittsburgh Penguins franchise are in serious talks about moving the team.

The Pens have struggled financially for a while now, and they haven't been as skilled of a team since the departure of Jaromir Jagr and now part-owner Mario Limieux. The team has a couple young stars though, including Malkin and some guy named Sidney Crosby, who has already racked up over 60(!) points this season.

Kansas City is one of several cities that will be considered for Penguin relocation. Also on the docket are Winnipeg, Portland, and Oklahoma City. KC is already nearing construction on the nearly $300 million Sprint Center, which has not yet signed an anchor franchise of any kind. The arena should be up and running by Fall 07.

If the Pens move west, it is highly likely that they will need to switch conferences. The NHL will need to move a western conference team to the east in order to keep balanced. Columbus would be a prime candidate for such a change, and if the team that switches takes Pittsburgh's spot directly, (without other divisional shifts) they would compete most closely with Philadelphia, New Jersey, and both New York teams.

I would support a change of this nature for the Jackets. The competition is a little lighter in the eastern conference, road trips would be shorter, and there wouldn't be much jet lag or time changes to deal with. In any case, it would be nice to not have to play Nashville and Detroit so many times a season.

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