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Realignment approved by NHL Board of Governors


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http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=604852

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- The NHL's Board of Governors on Monday approved a radical realignment plan, eliminating the current two-conference, six-division setup in favor of a configuration that features four conferences based primarily on geography. Two conferences will have eight teams and the other two conferences will have seven teams.

The Board authorized Commissioner Gary Bettman to implement this proposal in Monday evening's vote, pending input from the National Hockey League Players' Association.

The vote, which required a two-thirds majority of the League's 30 governors, passed on the first of two days of meetings here at The Inn at Spanish Bay. The League's new structure will go into effect starting next season.

The makeup of the yet-to-be-named four conferences is as follows:

* New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Washington and Carolina

* Boston, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Buffalo, Florida and Tampa Bay

* Detroit, Columbus, Nashville, St. Louis, Chicago, Minnesota, Dallas and Winnipeg

* Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Colorado

The four conferences are designed to alleviate geographic concerns among several current Western Conference teams that had been unhappy about their extensive travel through one, two, and sometimes even three time zones. Some of those teams argued that the late start of road games in the Pacific time zone were affecting fan interest, especially among younger fans.

The new alignment also enables the NHL to create a balanced schedule in which all teams will play each other at least twice every season, once at home and once on the road, giving fans a chance to see every team and superstar in the League. The remaining games will be played within the conferences.

In the seven-team conferences, teams would play six times -- three home, three away. In the eight-team Conferences, teams would play either five or six times in a season on a rotating basis; three teams would play each other six times and four teams would play each other five times. This process would reverse each season: An eight-team Conference member that plays an opponent six times in one season would play it five times the following season.

The top four teams in each Conference qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The first-place team would play the fourth-place team; the second-place team would play the third-place team. The four respective Conference champions would meet in the third round of the Playoffs, with the survivors playing for the Stanley Cup.

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shows what they think of the future of hockey in florida. I mean, is it not painfully obvious? all of the other conferences are matched up by region. then they put the florida teams with buffalo, boston, and the eastern canada teams. perfect for moves to quebec city, hamilton, hartford, etc.

how long before the west teams are fed up with the 4-out-of-8 vs 4-out-of-7 alignment? even moving one team east still doesnt solve it, as there would still be a 7 team division in each conference. 4 divisions only works with 28 or 32 teams.

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The top four teams in each Conference qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The first-place team would play the fourth-place team; the second-place team would play the third-place team. The four respective Conference champions would meet in the third round of the Playoffs, with the survivors playing for the Stanley Cup

So the first two rounds of the playoffs would always be against teams in your conference? Flyers, Pens, Caps, Rangers, Islanders, Cains, Devils?

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So the first two rounds of the playoffs would always be against teams in your conference? Flyers, Pens, Caps, Rangers, Islanders, Cains, Devils?

I don't get this at all. I get fanning the rivalries and all, but it possibly punishes the best team in the East "superconference" by not getting to play the overall 8th seed. It may also make it impossible for the two best teams to meet in the Conference Finals, or whatever they'll call it now, if they are in the same division, er, conference. And it eliminates some of the variety by not ever facing a whole nother division, er conference, until the 3rd round.

Blecch.

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Yea it kills for our conference, because our conference is most powerful every year. It's sucked good team can miss playoff just because those conferences.

Let look Philly, Rags, Pens, Caps, and Nj and Canes in mix for playoff spot almost every year, Isles can be potentialy a good team this year or next year.

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The unbalanced "conferences" bug me. I wouldn't want to be in an eight team "conference" that gets four playoff spots when other teams are in a seven team "conference" with four playoff spots.

And the playoff matches - as a friend in Buffalo noted on Facebook - are going to get real boring real fast. We won't see Boston, Buffalo or Montreal until the Semis or Finals?? That kinda blows from where I sit.

Carolina may as well just fold up tents right now. There's no way IMHO that they can compete year in and year out with Philly, Pittsburgh, New York in any way in the forseeable future.

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I really don't like the top 4 from each conference make it scenario. At least in the current model, the top 8 in each conference make it based on points...in this model, you could have teams from the Flyers division-which is loaded-NOT make the playoffs, while conferences with weaker teams will send multiple teams.

Keep the conferences as realigned, but I think it should still be based on total points. Maybe I'm not thinking it through, and there's a reason that won't work?

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Other than keeping the Flyers and Pens together, this just sucks. I hate everything about this. "Conferences", top four teams in each making the postseason, 16 in the West and 14 in the East, loaded division w/ Pens/Flyers/Caps/Rangers, etc, etc. It made so much sense just to move Detroit, Columbus or Nashville to the East and Winnipeg to the West. Hopefully this does not last long.

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shows what they think of the future of hockey in florida. I mean, is it not painfully obvious? all of the other conferences are matched up by region. then they put the florida teams with buffalo, boston, and the eastern canada teams. perfect for moves to quebec city, hamilton, hartford, etc.

how long before the west teams are fed up with the 4-out-of-8 vs 4-out-of-7 alignment? even moving one team east still doesnt solve it, as there would still be a 7 team division in each conference. 4 divisions only works with 28 or 32 teams.

It's a fairly safe bet that this is a temporary measure, which Bettman will use as leverage to expand to 32 teams. I think we can expect Phoenix to move after this season, probably to Quebec. They'll go into the Snowbird Conference. One or two more teams will likely also move, and whichever cities are left without a team will get expansion franchises sometime down the road. (The theory that makes the most sense to me is that Bettman will use the additional expansion franchises as a sop to the NHLPA in the next round of CBA bargaining, as a tradeoff for giving the owners a greater percentage of revenues. Owners get more money, plus the expansion fees, players get more jobs.)

The postseason format annoys me a bit, but it's not a huge problem for us. It is for Carolina, NYI, and NJ, but not our problem. The Wales and Campbell trophies are likely to be retired, unless they're given out to two of the four conference champions, with two more awards created for the other conferences. (Oh, and Gary? They're divisions. Calling them conferences doesn't fool anybody.)

I guess the best way to look at the playoffs is that the first two rounds are essentially play-in rounds. Looking at it like that, only one team from each conference gets to play for the Stanley Cup, and you have to play within the conference to determine which team that will be. After that, the four conference champions play in the third round, and the last two standing meet for the Stanley Cup. It's likely, though not a given, that the conferences won't be aligned by geography, so that the third round of the playoffs will be seeded by record. If the Flyers (101 pts.), Lightning (95), Kings (98), and Red Wings (108) were the four conference champions, the Wings would play the Lightning, the Flyers would play the Kings, and if the Flyers and Lightning won their rounds, we'd play Tampa for the Cup.

One very important thing for everyone to consider: Just because our conference seems to have a particular set of strong teams now, doesn't mean that will always be the case. If our incoming conference system existed in 2006-7, the "Eastern" conference standings would look like this:

NJ - 107

PIT - 105

NYR - 94

NYI - 92

CAR - 88

WAS - 70

PHI - 56

BUF - 113

OTT - 105

TB - 93

TOR - 91

MTL - 90

FLA - 86

BOS - 76

Just five seasons ago, WAS, BOS, and the Flyers were atrocious, both OTT and NJ were ridiculously good, and both NYI and TOR would have been in the playoffs. Who's strong and who's weak can change at a moment's notice, so there's no reason complaining about competitive imbalance. You're likely to end up on the wrong side of the imbalance soon enough.

Edited by dilbert719
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Just five seasons ago, WAS, BOS, and the Flyers were atrocious, both OTT and NJ were ridiculously good, and both NYI and TOR would have been in the playoffs. Who's strong and who's weak can change at a moment's notice, so there's no reason complaining about competitive imbalance. You're likely to end up on the wrong side of the imbalance soon enough.

One can easily see that the Flyers' 06-07 season is such an outlier on their record as to be outside of effective analysis. It's the only time since 1994 - 17 years - that the Flyers didn't make the postseason. Over that stretch they have one fewer first round exit (4) than the Canes have *appearances* (5).

The facts are that teams with big payrolls - like the Flyers - can turn things around quickly. Carolina/Islanders simply aren't going to be able to do that. Is it possible that Carolina could make the playoffs as a 4? Sure. But can you seriously see the Hurricanes being in the Top 3 of this "conference" on a consistent basis - EVER? They have five playoff appearances in 14 seasons in Carolina and, even with two Finals appearances, the All Star game and one of the league's exciting young players, they're 24th in home attendance trailing Florida, Tampa Bay and Nashville... They haven't made the playoffs in two years and aren't likely to do so this year, holding the third worst record in hockey having played two more games than the two teams behind them.

The Islanders? In fact, the Isles made the playoffs in 06-07 - losing in the first round. The Isles have been to the playoffs four times since 1994 and haven't been out of the first round since 1993. I wouldn't tout the 06-07 Isles as an example that shows the Isles can "compete" in this new "conference."

The Leafs haven't sniffed the postseason since the lockout.

Ottawa I would think has a better chance in their division of turning around and competing. Hell, they get to play Tronno and Florida six times apiece.

The four "conference" playoff system sucks... At least with the two-conference system, the SE Div team could luck into a first round home advantage. This way, they will almost never have home ice.

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My opinion isn't changed by what teams are affected-including the Flyers. I used their conference as an example.

I simply don't like that regardless of record, 4 teams from each conference are going to the playoffs. The current format provides flexiblity, once you get beyond the division winners--best 5 records in a conference round out the playoff bracket. With the new alignment, you could potentially have team(s) with better records sitting at home simply due to alignment.

Why not do this alignment for travel and scheduling purposes, and have the congerence winners as 1-2 seeds, based on record? Then the top 6 records from those divisions complete the playoff seedings.

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With the new alignment, you could potentially have team(s) with better records sitting at home simply due to alignment.

I think you *will* have this situation - and sooner than later.

Why not do this alignment for travel and scheduling purposes, and have the congerence winners as 1-2 seeds, based on record? Then the top 6 records from those divisions complete the playoff seedings.

That makes the most sense - and eliminates the ridiculous "3rd seed" division winner.

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As others have stated, I also do not like the idea of the top 4 teams in each division making the playoffs, as I don't see how it would be fair to allow a team in another division with a worse record to earn the right to play for the Cup while the team with the better record is setting their tee times.

On the other hand, I see the intrigue that they are looking to create here. This set up will put much more focus on a teams individual division. Currently, you hope to win your division so that you get in as a top 3 seed, however, if you don't, then you are paying attention to all teams within the East to determine your seeding. Under this new system, you won't give a crap about what the teams outside your division are doing because they have no bearing on your playoff lives (until you have to play them in the playoffs). So this makes every single divisional game very important. Pens and Rags games will have even more meaning then they have now. They are trying to make the stakes of divisional games that much higher, thus exentuating the rivalries even more. It will make for some very interesting regular season hockey. The regular season will mean more then it does now. Is it fair, not at all (NHL never seems to care about fairness) but it will certainly make things interesting.

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On the surface, it appears to make things easier for the Flyers....but it might just be six of one, half dozen of another. On one hand, we only play elite teams like Boston twice instead of four. But the weak sisters like Ottawa, Leafs, Sabres....we play them less. Having to play the Canes six times a year is a clear advantage in the short term. These things are cyclical, teams will get weaker and stronger, depending on salary cap management and more importantly drafting. If they are going to have this type of drastic change, I'd like to see all the conferences wiped out and have 1 play 16 and 2 play 15 etc. That would be really interesting. From a season ticket holder/fan perspective...it's refreshing to know we will see every team at least once. Every star comes to Philly at least once....which is huge. Some teams out West only see Crosby once every two years, and if he's hurt for that one game, they could potentially only see him once in four years...that is wrong. This fixes that permanently.

Games against the Caps are always close and that could be really exciting to see them 2 extra times a year. I do believe the conferences will be expanded due to expansion....which will even it all out eventually. I like Dallas getting out of that Pacific group, they were the ones getting screwed LARGE with road games against Van and all the west coast teams. That makes perfect sense to me.

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I like it. First of all, having a "division" with only four or five teams in it is lame to begin with. 7 or 8 team divisions will definitely make division races more interesting. With regards to "fairness", is it fair under the current system if you play in a weak division and make the playoffs over a team that played in a tougher division and just missed out? We've seen the playoff race go right down to the last game of the season so this is a real scenario and those extra couple games you get to play against weak teams in your division are a real life advantage.

As far as some teams having trouble competing, too bad. If the region can't support a team then the league shouldn't have put one there in the first place. Maybe this will end up making it easier for the league to move some weak franchises (FLA to QUE) or just contract (doubtful).

And as for the playoffs, depending on what they decide for the later rounds, there is the possibility of all kinds of matchups in the SCF. Overall I think this will make for a much more interesting hockey season, I guess time will tell.

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Under this new system, you won't give a crap about what the teams outside your division are doing because they have no bearing on your playoff lives

So 36 games of the season are vitally important and the 46 much much less so.

They settled on the to 8 point getters advance to the post season or a very good reason. Throwing that logic away is... illogical.

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So 36 games of the season are vitally important and the 46 much much less so.

They settled on the to 8 point getters advance to the post season or a very good reason. Throwing that logic away is... illogical.

No, I never said 46 games are not important. Every game our team plays is important because obviously they are looking to get one of the top 4 records in their division. What we won't care about anymore will be the records of teams outside our division because their records have no bearing on the Flyers playoff chances. It does make the divisional games more interesting and more important then the out of division games in that they have a direct impact on wins and losses of teams within the division.

I'm not defending the new system because I think it is fair or logical, rather playing devils advocate trying to find a reason to like it since it will be reality soon.

Edited by Adamflyers
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