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Wilson has fans best interests in mind
Realignment and scheduling on his BOG agenda
12/4/11 - By Mike Lee -

Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson is doing right by his fans this week. Wilson will be hob-knobbing in Carmel this week at the NHL Board of Governors Meetings at Pebble Beach to participate in discussions on a number of matters. The one he's already indicated that he has the most vested interest in relates to team realignment and how often teams play non-conference teams.

As the league tries to figure out what to do with the Winnipeg Jets and how to get them out of the Southeast Division, reps from each team will converge on the Central Coast to address the issue. One plan calls for a switch that would move the Detroit Red Wings to the Eastern Conference, and the Jets to the West.

The Red Wings want to move to the East strictly for selfish reasons. Getting out of the West allows the Red Wings to play more teams in the Eastern time zone, and reduces travel because more conference opponents sit geographically closer than current Western Conference opponents.

Wilson sees it another way. He wants the red Wings to remain in the West because it keeps a perennial power house in the same conference, which keeps a marquee rivalry intact. Without the Red Wings around, the Sharks have one less big ticket opponent to square off against four times a year.

Reason would suggest that without a team that always seems to be at the top of the Conference standings around, it's an easier path for the Sharks to qualify themselves. So why would Wilson want a tougher path to winning a Championship?

Wilson gets the big picture, that's why.

Since the day the Sharks entered the league, the Red Wings have been a big draw. Red Wing games sellout. Think about it. Are you shelling out a couple hundred bucks to see the Jets on a Tuesday? How about the same opponent on a Saturday night? It doesn't get any more attractive.

Even when the Red Wings are down and out (which is seemingly never), spending that same kind of money seems like a reasonable investment. The Red Wings have history. The Sharks have their own history with the Red wings. It only makes sense for Wilson to want the Red Wings in the West.

Another topic that Wilson will be pushing this week is the notion of scheduling home and home series between every team in the league. When the league locked out players a couple years ago, one of the things that came out of the ensuing collective bargaining agreement was the notion of streamlining travel budgets by scheduling more division games and rotating inter-conference games so that teams were forced to travel to the opposing coast less often.

When that plan was ratified, it meant that teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins would skip trips to San Jose altogether. While that helped each team's bottom line, it robbed fans of the right to see some marquee players on a regular basis.

Wilson thinks that by having superstar players make the rounds league wide, it will better promote the game. Being a Western Conference team, the Sharks would incur more travel costs, but having big name players visit HP Pavilion each season, it's will be easier to sell tickets.

The inverse would also hold true. That being that bad teams would also make the rounds, but if trade one or two stinkers for the guarantee that you'll see players like Alex Ovechkin and Sydney Crosby each season, ticket buyers may be more inclined to buy tickets on a regular basis.

Wilson is right on this one.

Repeatedly seeing Colorado or Calgary year after year, just doesn't have the same appeal as the notion of seeing at least each team once a season. Even the cup-cakes have heir upside. They should be easy wins.

Well, at least they should be. The Florida Panthers are the latest exception to that. San Jose hasn't beaten the Panthers in over 5 years. Part of that is attributed to the fact that they don't see the Panthers every year, but they just seem to have the Sharks number.

"Maybe there's a little burden for everybody to do something that really benefits the game," Wilson told the San Jose Mercury News.

Given the short-sightedness of the league, they will overlook the benefits that Wilson see as the big picture, and will do what they feel is right for the Red Wings. The league will most likely turn its back on fans for the sake of saving a few bucks now.


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