The NHL revised its proposed realignment for next season to form two conferences with two divisions each and restructure the playoffs to begin with divisional matchups instead of matchups within the conference. The league sent its plan to clubs this week for their review, but it must also be approved by the NHL Players’ Assn.
If the union approves, the NHL’s Board of Governors could vote on the proposal next week. If it passes, the new format will go into effect next season.
As with its previous plan, Detroit and Columbus would move to the East. But instead of four conferences, there would be only two and their numbers would be unbalanced, with 16 teams in the East and 14 in the West. They would be grouped as follows:
Atlantic division: Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington.
Central division: Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto.
Midwest division: Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, Winnipeg.
Pacific division: Ducks, Kings, Calgary, Edmonton, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver.
ESPN.com reported that the top three teams in each of the four divisions would qualify for the playoffs. The final four spots would go to the two teams in each conference with the next-best records.