WINNIPEG -- No team in the NHL is more geographically displaced this season than the Winnipeg Jets.
Jets players and coaches roundly supported last night's realignment decision that is expected to move the club out of the Southeast Division for the 2012-13 season. Next season Winnipeg will play in a conference with the Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Nashville Predators, Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues.
Minnesota is the Jets' nearest geographic rival and should allow fans to make the seven-hour car trip for road games next season. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is a Winnipeg product, and the Blue Jackets have former Winnipeg Jet Scott Arniel manning their bench.
While the Jets have the benefit this season of frequent travel to warmer climates for road games with the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning, next season's schedule should ease the Jets' travel burden.
The Jets also have three Minnesota products on their roster, and a chance to play before family and friends at the Xcel Energy Center delighted Blake Wheeler, who also played his NCAA hockey at the University of Minnesota.
"I like being in the Midwest a little more and being in the Central time zone," Wheeler said. "It'll be fun to play back home a little more often, and more specifically, for our travel, it's going to be huge to play the majority of our games in this area."