[caption id="attachment_22888" align="aligncenter" width="620"]Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images[/caption]

There’s a very good chance that there will be a new look to the NHL next season as realignment is almost certain to take place. The NHL proposed a realignment scheme to the players association and they accepted it.

The new conferences will now be presented to the league’s board of governors for final approval. The realignment would then be in place starting in the 2013-14 season.

Dill Daly, the deputy commissioner of the NHL, said the next step is to have the board of governors ratify the proposal; he hopes that this is done in the near future. The league and the NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA) worked hand-in-hand on the new alignment plan and it’s scheduled to be re-evaluated after the 2014-15 campaign.

The NHL currently consists of two separate conferences which are further divided into three divisions, giving the league six divisions in total. The Eastern and Western Conferences currently have 15 teams each with the top eight in each of them making the playoffs. Under the new system, the league will have 16 teams in the Eastern Conference, while the Western Conference will consist of 14.

If the plan is approved, the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Detroit Red Wings will relocate to the Eastern Conference while the Winnipeg Jets will head to the Western Conference. This will benefit the teams, since Columbus and Detroit are located in the Eastern time zone while Winnipeg sits in the Central time zone.

The realignment will still see 16 teams making the playoffs with eight of them coming from each conference. However, there will be a wild-card scheme in place where the top three clubs in each of the four divisions will make the post-season.

The four remaining playoff spots would go to two teams in the East and two in the West that have the next highest point totals. The two Eastern Conference divisions would be named the Central and Atlantic. The two Western Conference divisions would be the Pacific and Midwest.

The Central Division would be made up of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, Florida Panthers, Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres.

The Atlantic Division will include the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, Columbus Blue Jackets and Carolina Hurricanes.

In the Western Conference, the Pacific Division will include the Anaheim Ducks, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks, Edmonton Oilers, Phoenix Coyotes, and Los Angeles Kings.

The Midwest Division will be made up of the Winnipeg Jets, Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, and Minnesota Wild.

Along with the realignment, the schedule would also be altered. In the Western Conference, teams would play each other a minimum of three times and a maximum of five, depending on the division. In the Eastern Conference the schedule would be similar with teams facing opponents a different number of times each season on a rotating basis.


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