Found December 05, 2011 on The Voice Says...:
The NHL Board of Governors approved the realignment of the league into four conferences.  Two conferences will have eight teams in it, and two will have seven. 

It's a stark departure from the current format of two conferences with three divisions each.

The Conferences break down like this:

New Jersey/Philadelphia/Pittsburgh/NY Rangers/NY Islanders/Washington/Carolina

Boston/Montreal/Toronto/Ottawa/Buffalo/Florida/Tampa Bay

Detroit/Columbus/Nashville/St. Louis/Chicago/Minnesota/Dallas/Winnipeg

Los Angeles/Anaheim/Phoenix/San Jose/Vancouver/Calgary/Edmonton/Colorado


The top four teams in each conference will make the playoffs, giving the NHL their usual 16 teams. 

The new alignment also enables the NHL to create a balanced schedule in which all teams will play each other at least twice every season, once at home and once on the road, giving fans a chance to see every team and superstar in the League. The remaining games will be played within the conferences.

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.

I like that the Penguins seem to keep all of their rivals in their conference, so we'll still see them squaring off against Philly, Washington, NY, and NJ.  I'm not sure I'm a fan of the conference teams playing each other in the first two rounds of the playoffs.  Isn't that the purpose of playing each other five or six times in the regular season?

I'd rather see the conference number ones assigned 1-4, and the second place teams 5-8 and so on down the line.  You could even base it on record overall if you wanted.  I'm sure though some people will argue the rivalry aspect of the first two rounds will add to the intensity.  I guess we'll see.

Looking at the other conferences, how much sense does it make to have the two Florida teams in the same conference as Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa?  Nothing screams rivalry like Montreal and Florida.  I guess you could say Boston and Tampa Bay already know each other because of the Rays and the Red Sox, but this is a totally different sport.

Detroit wanted to move East, but it doesn't look like that necessarily happened with this choice.  At least they stay with all their current division rivals, plus they add Dallas and Winnipeg.

I wish they'd find a way to even out the amount of teams in each conference.  Find a way to add two more teams and give every team an equal chance of making the playoffs to start the season. 

Hopefully they come up with cool names for the Conferences.  Some people on Social media have already suggested naming the conferences after famous players.  I'd love to see Orr, Howe, Gretzky and Lemieux honored for their place amongst the all time greats. 

Is it a perfect plan?  Nope, but not everyone was going to be happy anyways.  You can always tweak the playoff format at a later time.  The main thing was getting the alignment correct, and for the most part I commend the NHL on a job well done.
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