The NHL approved a completely new and “radical” realignment of its teams Monday night, changing its six-division format to four conferences.
Talks about making changes to the six-division format really heated up when the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg this offseason. With two options on the table – one dramatic, one simple – the NHL picked the more drastic realignment approach.
While the ideas were voted on and will be implemented, there are some dissenting voices, as there always are, and there is probably going to be some debate when the NHLPA brings the idea to the union chief, Donald Fehr. The idea doesn’t need the unions’ approval, however.
This how the four realigned conferences will look:
Basically, the NHL has decided to break up the teams into four separate conferences named A, B, C, and D (I know right? Not the most creative, but they’re not the official names) and promised to have more “home-and-home series” between all teams.
Overall the travel will increase for teams, especially in the Eastern Conference, but travel among teams within the conference will be far less. The latter fact was reported as playing a major factor in the decision.
The top four teams in each conference will make the playoffs, and the first two playoff rounds will consist of intraconference matchups.
Some say the plan could be implemented as soon as next season. If that’s the case, I am excited to see how the new format will work and whether it’s going to be a success. Some rivalries are going to be broken, but some might just get started because of the guaranteed intraconference matchups in the playoffs.
I can understand where the problems lie and why some teams aren’t going to be in favor of this realignment. Even from reading the quotes, some of the members on the NHLPA loved the six division format, but knew change had to happen because of the Winnipeg move.
The drastic nature of this move comes as a huge surprise to me, but I am optimistic about the potential rivalries and great matchups we could see early on in the playoffs. Change always takes some time getting used to, but for a NHL season that has already had a lot of pleasant surprises (Minnesota and Edmonton ignored the fact that they’re not supposed to be this good) this news only adds to that.
Just guarantee me hockey, and I’ll be fine.