NHL realignment is here, and yes, it's radical change that will face the league as it begins the 2012-13 season. The league's Board of Governors voted in a four-conference system that doesn't include divisions. The news was first reported by Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press.
The debate, originally assumed to be a contentious one, took only an hour to conclude, according to several reports.
Further details were not immediately available, such as which teams will play in which conference, but CBC reported over the weekend a similar plan that looks like this:
Map via Cassie McClellan at Raw Charge.
Note that these divisions are not yet confirmed, but that these were reported by CBC on Saturday.
It's likely that the new playoff format that will see the first two rounds played inside of each conference, ultimately resulting in four conference champions and a final four-like setup for what used to be the Conference Final round. The top four teams from each conference would make the postseason.
The new system fixes travel concerns around the NHL, especially for the Western teams. Under the new format, according to Lawless' report and the CBC report from the weekend, among others, each team will play a home-and-home series with every other team in the league. That balances out travel substantially and helps teams like Detroit, Columbus and Dallas, which previously played a huge number of games outside of their own time zone.
We'll have more details when they become immediately available. Gary Bettman is holding a press conference from Pebble Beach, the location of the meetings, on Monday evening, so stay tuned to this StoryStream for more on this still breaking story.