NHL Realignment Could Include Radical Changes, Report Says

A plan for NHL realignment could dramatically shake up the the league's current division alignment and postseason system. CBC’s Elliotte Friedman introduced the plan on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday Night (video), and set the chances of it going through at "50-50." 

The proposal offers significant change. Before getting to the details, here's what the realignment would look like, via ProHockeyTalk:

According to Friedman, here are the big changes:

Realignment: Teams would be redistributed into four divisions over two conferences based on geographic proximity.

• Regular Season Schedule: Teams would play a home-and-home with each team outside its division. The remaining games are split within the division.

• Postseason Schedule: The first two rounds of the postseason would be contested within each division. As Friedman points out, this is how the system worked back when the NHL had 21 teams.

So that's the basic framework. As would be expected, some teams are reportedly happier with the plan than others. West coast teams want to cut down on cross-country flights and time zone shifts. But teams like the Flyers and Penguins are worried that their intrastate rivalry will be diminished with just two games per season.

Friedman has since posted an expanded commentary on NHL realignment, which is worth a read. So what has to happen for this to, well, happen? Friedman:

If Commissioner Bettman wants to push this through, he needs 20 votes when the Board of Governors convenes December 5 at Pebble Beach. (Easy place to get work done, I know.) Weeks ago this proposal was going nowhere. "Dead," one executive described it.

... So let's work backwards. Bettman needs 20 votes. There are 15 teams in the West. I can't say with certainty that he has all of them in his pocket, but if he doesn't, it's close. So, how many Eastern teams does he need? Five? Six? Maybe eight?

For the latest on NHL Realignment and more hockey news and opinion, stay tuned to SB Nation's NHL hub.

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