10th UPDATE: 10:39 p.m. EST: To review, here is a look at the realignment announced tonight by the NHL (the chart below appears on ESPN.com):
|New York Islanders|
|New York Rangers|
9th UPDATE: 10:23 p.m. EST: An important tweet from TSN's Darren Dreger: 1. Re-alignment requires NHLPA approval. 2. Playoff format for 3rd rd and beyond still not finalized. GMs to determine.
8th UPDATE: 10:17 p.m. EST: I don't believe the new conference names have been announced, but I have a suggestion -- two representing North American players and two representing Europeans. Here's a suggestion:
Gretzky (for the "Pacific" conference), Kurri (for the "Northwest" conference), Richard (for the "Northeast" conference) and Tretiak (for the "Atlantic" conference).
My two cents.
7th UPDATE: 10:03 p.m. EST: Initial impressions of the NHL's realignment:
1. It's bold: The need to move Winnipeg to the West was the only truly necessary one; instead, the league's Board of Governors have opted for something more dramatic
2. The return of a balanced schedule is welcomed (by at least this hockey fan)
3. The playoff format strongly resembles the former divisional format, and that could be a good thing or a bad thing
4. The seeding of the final four teams is the most intriguing move, as it sets up the potential for two teams from the East or West making it to the Stanley Cup Final
5. The travel demands on the league's teams should decrease once the post-season begins (think of the travel hell the Vancouver Canucks endured last season)
6th UPDATE: 9:48 p.m. EST: The regular season will include 2 games against all non-conference teams with all remaining games within the conference.
5th UPDATE: 9:40 p.m. EST: TSN's Bob McKenzie tweets the conference breakdown: ANA, LAK, SJS, PHX, COL, VAN, CGY, EDM in one 8-team conference. DAL, STL, CHI, MIN, WPG, NSH, DET, CBJ in other 8-team conference. And TOR, MTL, OTT, BUF, BOS, FLA, TB in one 7-team conference. NYR, NYI, NJD, PHI, PIT, WSH, CAR in other 7-team conference.
But it's McKenzie's next tweet that should really get your attention: After getting past the intra-divisional playoffs, the (f)our conference winners are seeded on total points, 1 vs 4, 2 vs 3, so an all-East or all-West final is possible.
4th UPDATE: 9:36 p.m. EST: Multiple tweets report that the playoff structure will be intra-divisional, meaning 1 plays 4, and 2 plays 3. There are no out of division playoff games until the conference finals.
3rd UPDATE: 9:33 p.m. EST: The Fan 590 in Toronto tweets the following: The NHL's Board of Governors has approved a four conference format. The Leafs are in a Division with OTT, MTL, BOS, BUF, TB and FLA.
2nd UPDATE: 9:29 p.m EST: Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times tweets the following: Kings and Ducks in conference with San Jose, Van, Calgary, Edmonton, Colo and PHX. Was told Ducks voted yes, haven't heard yet from Kings
1st UPDATE: 9:22 p.m. EST: The Associated Press explored the issue of realignment earlier today and suggested that the new four-division alignment could look like this:
» Atlantic Division: Penguins, Carolina, Detroit, Florida, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and WashingtonORIGINAL POST: Multiple tweets (and at least one media report) indicate that the National Hockey League has approved realignment beginning in the 2012-13 season.
» Northeast Division: Boston, Buffalo, Montreal, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa and Toronto
» Central Division: Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg
» Pacific Division: Anaheim, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose and Vancouver
The league will have four divisions within two conferences and the likelihood of each team playing every other team at least twice.