For several years, many hockey teams have been unhappy with their placement within their division. With Winnipeg getting a team, the rumours of a realignment grew stronger. Tonight, those rumours took one step forward in becoming a reality.Teams like the Detroit Red Wings and other western teams will come out winners in a realignment as they will no longer have to use their frequent flier miles as often.
Earlier this evening, the board of governors approved a four conference realignment that will have teams assigned a conference based on geography. The new alignment allows each team to play every team at least twice, giving the fans an opportunity to see every superstar (barring injuries of course). According to CBC, the four new conferences are as follows:
As of yet, no conference names have been assigned. Perhaps with this new alignment, there is a chance to revert back to the popular names used earlier such as Smythe and Norris.
This new format will feature the top four teams from each conference making the playoffs, with the top ranking team playing the fourth, and the second playing the third-ranked team. The two western-based conferences have eight teams in their respective conferences. Gary Bettman has said the general managers will decide how the playoffs will be played once the conference winners are determined. One potential idea is to re-seed the conference winners. For more information, please go to the NHL site which discusses how the regular season schedule will be organized.
It is important to note that at this time, the National Hockey League's Player Association has not given input to this proposed design and will do so before things are finalized. If all goes well, this new conference format will be in place next year.