The NHL Board of Governors approved a plan to realign the league next season. Obviously, with the Atlanta franchise moving to Winnipeg and playing in the South-East division, this was going to be necessary.
Thus, the league has taken steps to try to align the league in a way that makes sense. With teams like the Detroit Redwings and Columbus Blue Jackets unhappy about having to play so many western teams and making it difficult on the fan base to watch the games, as well as the travel on the team itself, it was also inevitable that such issues would also be addressed. To be honest, though, I personally wasn’t expecting a plan to be announced so quickly and with the approval of the board.
Of course, the NHLPA has to “approve” of the plan, but this is more of a formality than anything else. Furthermore, in most cases, it wouldn’t seem like most of the players would object to the changes. It will ease on travel for the “middle” teams and it seems to make sense as far as how the system will be set up.
There will be four “conferences”, instead of divisions. Two of the conferences will have 8 teams in them, while the other two will have 7 teams. Teams will play opponents outside of their conference 2 times a season, home and away. Teams in 7 team conferences will play each other six times, while the eight team conferences will play each other five or six times in which 3 teams will play each other six times and 4 teams would play each other five times, the process alternating each season.
The top four teams in each conference will qualify for the playoffs. First place will play fourth place, and second will play third place in the first round. Then, the survivors in each conference will play one another in the second round before the four conference champions meet in the third round. Obviously, the two surviving teams will then play in the Stanley Cup finals.
as for the 4 unnamed conferences themselves, according to the NHL news release, they will be as follows:
Anaheim Calgary Colorado Edmonton Los Angeles Phoenix San Jose Vancouver
Chicago Columbus Dallas Detroit Minnesota Nashville St. Louis Winnipeg
Boston Buffalo Florida Montreal Ottawa Tampa Bay Toronto
Carolina NJ Devils NY Islanders NY Rangers Philadelphia Pittsburgh Washington
So, the Islanders would have both the Hurricanes and the Capitals in their conference to meet six times a season. Yeah, folks, Crosby and Ovechkin six times a season …. Other than that, it’s the same Atlantic Division group we know so well.
The only “odd” conference that stands out to me is the C Conference in which you have Florid and Tampa playing in the same conference as the north-east teams. I guess they had to put them somewhere, but it’s a bit strange to me. Do I have a better idea, however? Nope, I don’t ….
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. What will the reaction be overall by the players? What will the reaction be from the fans? I think no answer would be perfect to everyone, but, to me, this works well enough. At least, teams will play one another twice a season out of conference. I just think the rotating situation for the 8 team conferences playing one another is going to take some getting used to.
In Any event, there you go. This is the plan the NHL is seeking to institute for next season. Thus, I guess we should get used to the “new look” league and our conference opponents as well. For Islander fans, Washington was in our division in the past.
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