As per NHL Public Relations:
The National Hockey League Board of Governors tonight approved a four-Conference alignment format and authorized Commissioner Gary Bettman to implement this proposal, pending
input from the National Hockey League Players’ Association. The format would create two eight-team Conferences and two seven-team conferences.
Under the format, every team would play every other team outside its conference twice — once home, once away.
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.
As per TSN:
The existing Northeast division would be expanded to include the league’s two Florida-based teams, making a conference of: Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Toronto.
Meanwhile, the existing Atlantic Division would gain two teams for a seven-team conference including: Carolina, New Jersey, the New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington.
The Central Division would be modified to form a conference of Mid-Western teams including: Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, and Winnipeg.
The three Canadian teams from the Northwest Division would join a proposed Western Conference including: Anaheim, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose and Vancouver.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be posting my opinion on this change in more detail in an upcoming blog on Kukla’s Korner. I will admit the BoG surprise me by approving such a radical change. They tend to be conservative in their thinking, and it takes a lot to convince them to make significant changes to their product. Apparently, most of the Eastern teams were onside because it meant very little change for them while most of the Western teams approved largely because it’s a more travel-friendly setup.
Ultimately, I don’t expect this to please everyone and there will be legitimate criticism. I look forward to hearing from my readers for their thoughts. Happy? Upset? Don’t care? Lemme know!