NHL Adopts Four Conference Realignment Plan
The NHL decided to realign, creating four conferences linked by geographical location, a radical realignment from the current six-division setup.
The NHL Board of Regents voted to implement the new proposal pending input from the NHL Players' Association. Commissioner Gary Bettman has been authorized to implement the plan, and the league's intention is for the four-conference set-up to be in place starting with the 2012-13 season.
Two conferences will have eight teams and two wiil have seven teams. Names have not yet been decided for the conferences. The makeup of the four conferences is as follows:
- New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Washington and Carolina.
- Boston, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Buffalo, Florida and Tampa Bay.
- Detroit, Columbus, Nashville, St. Louis, Chicago, Minnesota, Dallas and Winnipeg.
- Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Colorado.
"This is not a subject that everybody is going to get their first choice on," Bettman said. "What you try to do is come up with something that everybody can live with, get comfortable with and understands the value of. Because if you ask 30 clubs, you'd probably get 30 different solutions. That's what makes this a difficult process."
The plan guarantees a home-and home series among all teams, which will also play five or six games against teams within their own conference.
The top four teams in each conference will advance to the playoffs, with the first two rounds featuring only intraconference matchups. It has not been decided whether to reseed in the third round or have pre-determined matchups.
Realignment was necessary due to the fact that Winnipeg had to move out of the Eastern Conference after playing in the Southeast Division this season due to the late relocation of the franchise from Atlanta.
"I had nothing against the existing format, and but for the move to Winnipeg we wouldn't be looking to change it," Bettman said. "It wasn't a question of being dissatisfied, but we had a number of clubs that were unhappy with the current state of affairs, and in the context of having to make a change anyway felt it was important for their needs and their concerns and their issues to be recognized. It was intended to be as much a global solution as possible."
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