One topic that's barely been discussed in CBA negotiations – as far as we know – has been the topic of NHL realignment. If you recall, the league had proposed a bold realignment plan that would separate the NHL into four conferences. The plan was struck down quickly by the NHLPA.
Now comes a report from Larry Brooks of the New York Post that indicates the NHL might have Columbus and Winnipeg trade conferences in the event of a shortened season.
It all boils down to travel.
If the NHL and NHLPA are able to work out a deal and salvage what's left of a very badly damaged season, the issue of travel immediately comes to mind. Teams would likely be playing more games in less time in order to squeeze in the rumored 48-game schedule. This would likely cause issues for teams such as Winnipeg, a team that currently plays in the Southeast Division along with Florida, Tampa Bay, Washington and Carolina. It's fairly obvious that in a shortened schedule Winnipeg would be hampered by an ugly travel schedule.
As for Columbus, a move to the Southeast would make more sense than their current home in the Central.
Joe Yerdon of Pro Hockey Talk also notes that this scenario would open the door for a Rick Nash reunion in Columbus – a sight most hockey fans are craving.
Will the temporary switch take place? That all depends on two things: 1) Whether or not a new CBA is reached to salvage any part of the season and 2) Whether or not the NHL wants to leave things as is and wait to overhaul the conferences during the summer or start tinkering immediately.