Monday, December 5, 2011

NHL approves new four conference system

The NHL standings and playoffs will look very different next season.  After a 26-4 vote, the NHL Board of Governors has approved a new four conference system that will look like this:

Conference A: Ducks, Flames, Avalanche, Oilers, Kings, Coyotes, Sharks, Canucks

Conference B: Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, Stars, Red Wings, Wild, Predators, Blues, Jets

Conference C: Bruins, Sabres, Panthers, Canadiens, Senators, Lightning, Maple Leafs

Conference D: Hurricanes, Devils, Islanders, Rangers, Flyers, Penguins, Capitals

The league will also feature a much more balanced schedule, with teams playing conference opponents 5 or 6 times depending on the size of the conference.  Every team will also play every other team at least twice, once at home and once on the road.  For the playoffs, each conference will be seeded 1-4 and they will play each other to determine a conference winner, who will then move on to the final 4 for the Stanley Cup.

Not all that much changes in terms of the conference for the Flyers, who will have all of their current division opponents plus the Capitals and Canes.  What will be very interesting will be the playoffs, which will only allow four teams within the conference to advance to the playoffs and could potentially leave out a good team, especially in the Flyers deep conference.

The NHLPA still has to approve this realignment but it seems like a big win for the NHL, which is emphasizing rivalries and will once again allow every fan base to see every other team.  Only allowing one team from each conference to make it to the Stanley Cup Semifinals will also make for some amazing early round playoff action between bitter rivals.

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