NHL realignment: League keeps divisional breakdown but reverts to East, West conferences

Christian Petersen

The NHL's latest proposal for realignment involves four divisions in two conferences.

The NHL released a memo to its league members detailing that the proposal featuring four conferences has been scrapped in favor of a new proposal, according to multiple reports on Tuesday afternoon.

Elliotte Friedman of CBC reports that the NHL has reworked the proposal to include two conferences with two divisions per conference. Much like the current format, the conferences will be differentiated as Eastern and Western.

The Eastern Conference will contain two, eight-team divisions. They are divided as follows, via CBC.ca:

Atlantic Division

* Carolina Hurricanes
* Columbus Blue Jackets
* New Jersey Devils
* New York Islanders
* New York Rangers
* Pittsburgh Penguins
* Philadelphia Flyers
* Washington Capitals

Central Division

* Boston Bruins
* Buffalo Sabres
* Detroit Red Wings
* Florida Panthers
* Montreal Canadiens
* Ottawa Senators
* Tampa Bay Lightning
* Toronto Maple Leafs

Teams in the Eastern Conference will play 28 games against teams in the Western Conference (one home, one road), 24 games against opponents from the other division (with the extra home game being rotated each year) and 30 games against teams in their division (two teams five times, five teams four times).

The Western Conference will contain two, seven-team divisions. They will be divided as follows:

Midwest Division

* Chicago Blackhawks
* Colorado Avalanche
* Dallas Stars
* Minnesota Wild
* Nashville Predators
* St. Louis Blues
* Winnipeg Jets

Pacific Division

* Anaheim Ducks
* Calgary Flames
* Edmonton Oilers
* Los Angeles Kings
* Phoenix Coyotes
* San Jose Sharks
* Vancouver Canucks

Teams in the Western Conference will play 32 games against the Eastern Conference (one home, one road), 21 games against opponents in the other Western division (extra home game will be rotated each year) and 29 games against their own division (one team will be played four times instead of five times).

In terms of playoffs, the top-three teams in each division will qualify for the playoffs. The fourth seeds will be open as wild cards, which means divisions potentially have five teams earning playoff berths. The tie-breaker to determine the seeding of the wild cards will be the team's final point total (lowest points faces highest point-earning division winner).

The NHL and NHL Players' Association are expected to meet following the 2015-16 season to determine if the format is working.

More in the NHL:

Naming the new NHL divisions

NHL to institute a coach's challenge?

"Gonna catch you with your head down"

John Tortorella’s not going anywhere

NHL realignment proposal a dream for television

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