Realignment Approved

Like it or not, the NHL is going to have a drastically different look next season as the league's Board of Governors has approved the proposed realignment plan.

Here's how the playoffs will work…

"The Stanley Cup Playoffs will still consist of 16 teams, eight in each conference, but it will be division-based and a wild-card system has been added as a new wrinkle.

The top three teams in each division will make-up the first 12 teams in the playoffs. The remaining four spots will be filled by the next two highest-placed finishers in each conference, based on regular-season points and regardless of division. It will be possible, then, for one division to send five teams to the postseason while the other sends three.

The seeding of the wild-card teams within each divisional playoff will be determined on the basis of regular-season points. The division winner with the most points in the conference will be matched against the wild-card team with the lowest number of points; the division winner with the second-most points in the conference will play the wild-card team with the second fewest points.

The teams finishing second and third in each division will play in the first round of the playoffs. The winners of each series will play for berths in the Conference Championship series.

The two divisional champions in each conference will then play in the conference finals to advance to the Stanley Cup Final."

…is it perfect? Not even close. Especially when one conference has two more teams, but I don't anticipate that to last very long as most experts expect the league to expand again to fill those two spots in the Western Conference. I find it strange that in a couple of years I'm going to hate the Columbus Blue Jackets. Weird.

…travel-wise this is a home run for teams such Detroit, Columbus and Dallas and getting another Original Six team in the Eastern Conference can only be good for national ratings. I also believe that lumping Florida and Tampa in with Northeast teams such as Boston and Montreal will only help with attendance and local TV ratings as there are plenty of hockey fans from those traditional markets who have relocated to the Sunshine state.

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