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Friday, 8 March 2013

NHL Realignment Gets The Pass Until 2014-2015

Something rare happened in the NHL on Thursday evening and no it has nothing to do with the Chicago Blackhawks remarkable 21-0-3 record. The NHLPA actually agreed to something the NHL presented! I mean if they did this more often we could have avoided the whole lockout! The NHLPA gave the green light on the NHL's presented realignment which will see the Eastern Conference now hold 16 teams to the Western Conference's 14.

Despite some teams and players being concerned over having 16 teams in the East and some of the added travel, the NHLPA decided to play night and say yes to NHL realignment with the understanding that they will re-visit it after the 2014-2015 NHL season.

Here's a link at the new conferences. (They have yet to be named so for now it's just conference 1,2,3,4)

Conference 1                                                                       [box]

  • Carolina Hurricanes

  • Columbus Blue Jackets

  • New Jersey Devils

  • New York Islanders

  • New York Rangers

  • Philadelphia Flyers

  • Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Washington Capitals


Conference 2


  • Boston Bruins

  • Buffalo Sabres

  • Detroit Red Wings

  • Florida Panthers

  • Montreal Canadiens

  • Ottawa Senators

  • Tampa Bay Lightning

  • Toronto Maple Leafs


Conference 3


  • Chicago Blackhawks

  • Colorado Avalanche

  • Dallas Stars

  • Minnesota Wild

  • Nashville Predators

  • St. Louis Blues

  • Winnipeg Jets


Conference 4


  • Anaheim Ducks

  • Calgary Flames

  • Edmonton Oilers

  • Los Angeles Kings

  • Phoenix Coyotes

  • San Jose Sharks

  • Vancouver Canucks


Take a long hard look at the new "Divisions," the Eastern Conference just got a lot more difficult as we welcome Pavel Datsyuk and the Detroit Red Wings.

Of course the new format makes the old playoff format null and void, but we will still see a West vs. East Stanley Cup final. Here's how the new playoff format will play out- the top 3 teams from each division will earn a playoff birth, the final 4 spots will be "wild cards" which will go to the teams that weren't the top 3 with the best records from each Conference. The playoff format will then have the 1st place team play the lowest wild card in their division and the 2nd face off against the 3 seed. The playoffs will be based on division and not conference, meaning the Canadiens and Bruins would have to face-off as well as the Flyers and Penguins in either the quarter-finals or the semi-finals.

If you're confused here's an example, the Los Angeles Kings who were the 2012 Stanley Cup Champions would have missed the playoffs last season under the new format despite having more points than the Blackhawks who would have made it. Basically all that matters is your place in your division.

The great thing about the new realignment and playoff format is it will add so more fuel to a lot of rivalries- perhaps the biggest one at the moment Flyers vs. Penguins, who's battles will be even more important under the new format. We're in for some exciting hockey with the new NHL realignment plan, but the Eastern Conference got the a raw deal and if there is no expansion coming soon I can't see it lasting past 2015.

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