NHL Realignment: What It Means to the Los Angeles Kings

Jason Lewis@@SirJDLCorrespondent IIDecember 6, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 01:  Dustin Brown #23 of the Los Angeles Kings eludes a check by Tim Kennedy #8 of the Florida Panthers in the third period at Staples Center on December 1, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Kings defeated the Panthers 2-1.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

So, in the last 24 hours, the NHL board of governors has approved a drastic change to the alignment of the NHL and the format of the playoffs.

Personal opinion first: I think it's a fantastic idea. It's going to cut down on travel, spawn huge rivalries come playoff time, and it also leaves the league open to expansion since there are uneven conferences (Hartford or Quebec, perhaps?).

But when I saw the new division and playoff format, the first thing I thought was, "How does this effect my Kings?"

In case you missed it, the division as of next year will look like this:

Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Colorado and Phoenix.

We will play each of these teams six times—three home and three away.

Also, the top four teams will be taken out of each conference (divisions no longer exist), and the first TWO rounds of the playoffs will be within conference series. Division winner will play fourth, and second playing third.

Big change, right? From there on it's a reseeding of division winners, and again, one plays four and two plays three.

This means that it is a possibility for there to be something like a Detroit vs. LA SC Finals. Or a Pittsburgh-Montreal SC Finals. Exciting huh?

Some big points to think about if you are a Kings fan, though.

As usual, it will be a dogfight in the far West. Vancouver, San Jose and Phoenix are already solid teams, and in two or three years, Edmonton and Colorado are going to be very good teams, as well.

The competition just got ramped up. A lot.

Also, some bloodbath playoff series will arise. With only four teams moving on within conference, get used to possibly seeing the same teams for a few years in the first couple of rounds. And that's going to lead to history and hatred very quickly.

The Kings would likely have to duke it out each year with at least either Vancouver and/or San Jose to advance.

Also, as a fan of going to the games, get used to seeing everyone outside of our conference only once in Staples during the season. Every other team in the league will be played once at home and once away.

Yes: Instead of playing Detroit four times, we'll play them twice. Instead of playing Chicago four times, we'll play them twice. And we will be guaranteed to see teams like the Islanders, Bruins, Maple Leafs and Sabres at least once a year in Staples.

So take a moment to realize the big changes that have occurred, and what they mean.

Pros: Bitter rivalries, difficult, exciting competition and less travel.

Cons: Very difficult division and playoff jamming from the same teams.

I am very excited to see how this plays out next season.


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