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Thursday, March 14, 2013

NHL Approves Realignment

Wild on Sports
NHL Approves Realignment

It has been a long time coming. With teams crossing time zones for inter-divisional games and a team in Western Canada playing in the Southwest Conference, a change in division structure was needed.  On Thursday the NHL Board of Directors approved a proposal that the NHL and NHLPA had been working on last week that will realign the NHL into four divisions - 2 eight team divisions and 2 nine team divisions. The new alignment is slated to begin in 2014. While the divisions look significantly different, only 3 teams are changing conferences - Detroit and Columbus to the East and Winnipeg to the West.

Perhaps the biggest challenge faced by the NHL and NHLPA in this realignment has been setting up a playoff structure that would be fair to both teams in a eight team division and teams in a nine. Here is what they came up with...

From NHL.com
"The Stanley Cup Playoffs will still consist of 16 teams, eight in each conference, but it will be division-based and a wild-card system has been added as a new wrinkle.
The top three teams in each division will make-up the first 12 teams in the playoffs. The remaining four spots will be filled by the next two highest-placed finishers in each conference, based on regular-season points and regardless of division. It will be possible, then, for one division to send five teams to the postseason while the other sends three.
The seeding of the wild-card teams within each divisional playoff will be determined on the basis of regular-season points. The division winner with the most points in the conference will be matched against the wild-card team with the lowest number of points; the division winner with the second-most points in the conference will play the wild-card team with the second fewest points.
The teams finishing second and third in each division will play in the first round of the playoffs. The winners of each series will play for the divisional championship.
The two divisional champions in each conference will then play in the conference finals to advance to the Stanley Cup Final."
Seems to make sense.

Perhaps one of the most interesting storylines in all of this will be the new rivalry's it creates.While Detroit loses its rivalry with Chicago (in theory), it gains some excellent original 6 options in Montreal and Boston. Crosby and Ovetchkin are now in the same division and will face off on a more regular basis. The Western Canadian teams will all get a chance to dance regularly as well.

Overall a good day for the NHL. It will be fun to see how it all unfolds.

2013-14 realignment plan


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