The Board of Governors approved a new realignment setup to begin next season. The league will switch from two conferences with three divisions each to four conferences. The two westernmost conferences will each have eight teams, while the two more eastern ones will have seven. Conference names are yet to be determined, and the NHLPA still needs to approve it.
The four new conferences consist of the following teams:
- Conference A: Anaheim, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver
- Conference B: Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, Winnipeg
- Conference C: Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto
- Conference D: Carolina, Long Island, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington
The best part about this realignment (in my ever humble opinion) is that each team will have a home and home series against every other team. The new setup will allow the western teams to travel less than they do now, but they will still have more travel than the eastern teams (especially conference D). The other good news is that if Phoenix folds and moves to Eastern Canada as many expect then we will have a 7 team division, making the playoffs more likely. That said I fully expect the NHL to attempt to add two more teams in the next five or so years to make four 8-team conferences.
Playoff format will stay with in your division for the first two rounds, but there is no word yet on how the conference champions will be whittled down to the Stanley Cup Champion. I’m hoping for a seeding based on points, allowing for to western (or eastern) based teams to play in the finals, but I’m not sure that will happen.
The other weird thing for me is where the Florida teams are. I would think there is a better way of aligning them, but who am I to oppose the mighty Bettman.
Overall I approve, do you?