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The Board of Governors have finally authorized NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to implement the proposal to the NHLPA to realign the divisions of the league. Instead of six divisions, the NHL will follow a four-conference format starting next season. The move was taken under consideration after Atlanta had been moved to Winnipeg.
The switch is a drastic one as the four conferences are now based on the geography of the teams. One of the main issues with the six-division format were the travel issues for teams like Dallas, Detroit, Columbus, Nashville and Vancouver. Those Western teams traveled more than the Eastern teams, the travel will now be about even for both sides. Another plus to this change is that every team will now play a home and home series against all nonconference teams and five or six games in their own conference. The top four teams of each conference will make the playoffs.
The realignment shook things up but don’t be surprised if two expansion teams eventually even things out. The NHL currently has thirty teams but the conferences consist of two eight-team and two seven-team conferences.
|Conference A||Conference B||Conference C||Conference D|
New York Islanders
New York Rangers
While the realignment keeps old rivalries fresh and the history intact, we also could see unlikely matchups in the Stanley Cup Finals that we have never seen before. We could see The Bruins vs. The Rangers or Vancouver vs. Chicago. The possibilities are endless and next season will be a tell-all season of how the realignment will affect the NHL teams.