Latest NHL Realignment News 2013

According to the website, the NHL will have a fresh look for the regular season and a new format for the Stanley Cup Playoffs beginning next season after the Board of Governors approved the realignment plan proposed last week. The four-division plan, featuring a new set-up for the playoffs, will be in place for a minimum of three seasons, barring any franchise relocation or expansion. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said neither relocation nor expansion were being discussed, however.

"This goes into the good news category," Commissioner Bettman said Thursday. "We can begin the process of preparing next year's schedule. The NHL and NHL Players' Association each had input into the plan to realign the League into a more geographically appropriate two-conference, four-division format that has 16 teams in the Eastern Conference and 14 teams in the Western Conference.

The Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets are moving to the Eastern Conference to provide them the ability to play the majority of their games against teams in the same time zone. The Winnipeg Jets are moving to the Western Conference for the same reason. The Dallas Stars are staying in the Western Conference but moving into a division that includes five other teams from the Central time zone. Stars president and CEO Jim Lites said being in the same time zone as most of the teams in the division should have an impact on television ratings and fan interest.

The new alignment also ensures that all 30 teams play in all 30 arenas at least once per season. 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.

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