Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 12/7/11
Forced into realignment following Atlanta's move to Winnipeg last summer, the NHL opted for a dramatic change rather than a simple one. League officials approved a radical realignment plan Monday that will give the league four conferences instead of six divisions and will guarantee home-and-home series among all teams. The NHL's Board of Governors authorized commissioner Gary Bettman to implement the proposal pending input from the NHL Players' Association, and it should be in place by next season. Wild forward Matt Cullen is thrilled about the changes that will have the Wild playing in a conference with Detroit, Columbus, Nashville, St. Louis, Chicago, Dallas and Winnipeg. "This is going to be awesome, he said Tuesday. In terms of travel, it is going to be much easier, and I also like some of the potential rivalries that we might have." The new plan tried to address as many concerns of the teams as possible, from creating more equitable travel to preserving rivalries to promoting the game by having the biggest stars play in every city every season. Wild forward Darroll Powe has just moved over from the Eastern Conference, where he played in Philadelphia. He was quick to point out the positives of the change for Minnesota. "First off, our team will have far less wear and tear from traveling back and forth through so many time zones, Powe said. I also think that it is really cool that we will be playing every team in the league at least twice." Wild owner Craig Leipold is happy, too. "I'm most excited for our fans who now will not need to stay up until 9:30 p.m. to watch our team play a majority of our road games," he said. "The other great aspect is that every NHL team will come to Xcel Energy Center at least once each season, which means our fans will get to see their favorite players from around the league at least once a season in person." The other three conferences include Anaheim with Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose and Vancouver. In the current Eastern Conference there will be two, seven-team conferences that include Boston with Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Toronto. The other has Carolina with New Jersey, the New York Islanders, the New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington. Wild coach Mike Yeo also thinks this new look will be good for everyone in the NHL. "We are two months into this season," Yeo said, "and we haven't played a road game in our time zone yet. This is going to help our energy level and practice schedule big-time in the future. I think this is going to be a really good thing for everyone in the NHL long-term."
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