Driven by the Thrasher’s move to Winnepeg, NHL officials scrapped the six divisions and approved a radical realignment plan giving the league four conferences, set to be implemented in the 2012-2013 season. The new conferences go as followed.
Details: The new format league’s 30 teams will be split into two seven-team conferences and two eight-team conferences based on geographic area and time zone.
Change to Schedule: This creates a balanced schedule where all teams play each other at least twice every season, once at home and once on the road. The format also evens out travel for every team.
Playoffs: The top four teams in each Conference will qualify for the playoffs. The first-place team will play the fourth-place team in the same conference, and the second-place team will play the third-place team.
The four Conference champions would meet in the third round creating a Frozen Four in the pro’s, with the winners playing for the Stanley Cup.
How the League will seed the teams for the semifinals won’t come until the GM meetings in March.
Positives: Evens out travel, creating more matchups in local timezones (eliminating the problem the Red Wings, Blue Jackets, and Stars fans have had to put up with for years). Every team will get at least one home game with every team in the league, which guaruntees fans can see all the league’s stars and helps the league better brand the new generation of players throughout North America.
This will also create regional rivalries through the six regular season games plus two rounds of playoffs teams play in-conference. Pairing teams who don’t like each other over and over again will hopefully create more intense rivalries in the future, both in- and out- of conference, such as the legendary Battle of March 26th, 1997: