RALEIGH NC - JANUARY 29: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks at a press conference during the 2011 NHL All-Star Weekend at the RBC Center on January 29 2011 in Raleigh North Carolina. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

NHL Realignment: Conference Imbalance Would Give Eastern Teams Financial Benefit

It was always a foregone conclusion that the NHLPA would offer their consent to the NHL's new four-division realignment. They haven't, and now the league will stick with the current format for the 2012-13 season.

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25 Total Updates since June 26, 2011
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NHL Realignment: NHLPA Fails To Ratify Proposal Based On Travel Concerns, And That's Silly

The NHLPA has cited extra travel as their chief reason for failing to ratify the NHL's realignment proposal, but that doesn't really make any sense at all, does it?

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NHL Realignment, A Primer: Four Conferences, Revamped Playoffs Among The Change

NHL realignment is here, and there's a ton of news flying around. Let's break down all the information as easily as we can, first with a look at which teams fall where. 

We've posted this map about 18,000 times now, so just click if you'd like to see it again. Here's a different visual breakdown of the new conferences. 

"East" "West"
Conference  1 Conference 2 Conference 3 Conference 4
Carolina Boston Chicago Anaheim
New Jersey Buffalo Columbus Calgary
NY Islanders Florida Dallas Colorado
NY Rangers Montreal Detroit Edmonton
Philadelphia Ottawa Minnesota Los Angeles
Pittsburgh Tampa Bay Nashville Phoenix
Washington Toronto St. Louis San Jose

Winnipeg Vancouver

Names of the new conferences have yet to be decided, and there's no word if they could go back to the old Patrick, Adams, Norris and Smythe names. 

IMBALANCE: The first thing you notice is the unbalance between the Eastern half of the league and the Western half. Keep in mind that there's no such thing as the Eastern Conference and Western Conference any longer, so that's not really of too much concern. The top four teams in each conference will make the postseason.

Gary Bettman's argument against the concern that it'll be easier to make the playoffs if you're in one of the Eastern groupings is that the bottom seedings are inconsequential. Basic mathematics seem to sit counter to that point, but we'll let you be the judge of if you care about that.

PHOENIX SITUATION: Besides, this new format might not even make it to the beginning of the 2012-13 season. There's still plenty of uncertainty revolving the Phoenix Coyotes, and it's definitely possible that the team is playing in a different city come next season. This seems to create a bit of a contingency plan for the NHL.

Should Phoenix move East to Quebec City, it's a quick swap to "Conference 2". If they were to move to Kansas City or Seattle or another Western locale, Detroit or Columbus could be shifted to "Conference 1" or "Conference 2."

Again, though, balance between the East and the West doesn't really matter at this point considering there's no such thing as the East and the West. 

And, well.... it does sort of lend itself to potential expansion to 32 teams, doesn't it? /cart-before-the-horse

SCHEDULE CHANGES: There will be a home-and-home held between each team in the league, meaning that each team will play in each league city every single season. That helps travel concerns for the West to an extent, but the reality is that teams in the West are just separated by more distance and will have to travel more, no matter the alignment.

The rest of the games will be filled inside of your own conference. 

If your team is in a seven-team conference, they will play 36 games inside of their conference, or six games against each team. In eight-team conferences, teams will play at least five but potentially six games against each their intra-conference foes. 

PLAYOFFS: The big question is how the playoffs will work. According to Bettman, here's how things will go:

  • As we mentioned, the top four teams in each conference will advance to the postseason. 
  • From that point, the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be intra-conference. 
  • There will be four conference champions, each of whom will advance to a final four. 
  • The four teams will likely be reseeded based on regular season results, with No. 1 playing No. 4 and No. 2 playing No. 3. The winners will meet in the Stanley Cup Final. It's also possible that the two eight-team conferences (or, the East) will meet and that the two seven-team conferences (the West) will meet, with the winner playing in the Final. Bettman said the general managers will decide this.

All in all, there's a whole lot of change, and not everybody will be happy with it. How does this all make you feel? For complete coverage of NHL realignment, stick with this StoryStream.

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NHL Realignment: Four Conference Plan Voted In By Board Of Governors

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:

Nhl-realignment-map_2011-12-03_medium

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.

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NHL Realignment Will Reportedly Appease Detroit Red Wings, No Matter What

NHL realignment will be the major topic discussed Monday and Tuesday when the league's Board of Governor's meets for their annual meeting in Pebble Beach, Calif., and according to a report from Sportsnet, it looks as though whatever solution the Board decides on will certainly appease the Detroit Red Wings.

Of course, the Wings happen to be one of the most influential organizations in the NHL. 

We don't know if anything will be actually finalized by the time the Board of Govs goes their separate ways on Tuesday afternoon, as it takes a two-thirds vote to finalize anything, but we do know that they'll be discussing two very different plans. Via Sportsnet:

I'm told, the two plans will be presented without a recommendation from the commissioner's office, and they are plans that "reflect the greatest level of club interest." The simple one is just a swap of Detroit for Winnipeg. That fulfils the promise of Gary Bettman to Mike Illitch to put the Red Wings in the east.    

The second proposal is a bit more complex. It's the four division, no conferences approach that's been rumored in the recent past, and according to Sportsnet, it would feature a balanced schedule and would keep local rivalries alive with a divisional playoffs system. 

That's obviously quite the change from what we have right now, and who knows if it'll ever see the light of day. It's just as easy that we see the Red Wings join the Eastern Conference, although the placement of them into the Southeast Division does seem less than ideal. 

Hopefully we find out what'll happen after the meetings on Monday and Tuesday. 

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NHL Realignment: Detroit Red Wings To Join Eastern Conference Next Season, Says Owner

The Detroit Red Wings will be a member of the Eastern Conference when the NHL realigns for the 2012-13 season, according to somebody who would be in a position to divulge such information: the owner of the team. 

Via an interview with Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch in The Detroit News:

"The commissioner (Gary Bettman) promised me I was next. We even had a meeting over lunch this past season, and he had all his people here, and he goes, 'Yeah, I promised Mike he'd be the next one to go in the Eastern Conference.' So I expect to be in next year. Jimmy D (Devellano) is on the phone every other week reminding them."

Devellano is the Senior Vice President of the Red Wings. A Detroit move to the Eastern Conference is not necessarily unexpected, as we've known about their desire to move for some time now, but it certainly will ruffle some feathers. And we don't mean that as a Chicago Blackhawks pun. (Okay, yes we do.) 

The balance of power in the NHL will distinctly shift with the Red Wings coming East and the Winnipeg Jets shifting to the West next season, if that indeed is the only change that occurs. The NHL Board of Governors has discussed realignment recently and they're expected to finalize some decisions by the end of the 2010 calendar year.

H/T: Craig Custance

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