Beginning next season, the realigned NHL will have a decidedly new look — and new division names.
On Friday, the league announced the Western Conference would be comprised of two divisions, Pacific and Central, while the Eastern Conference would be made up of two as well: Atlantic and Metropolitan.
|WESTERN CONFERENCE||EASTERN CONFERENCE|
|Pacific Division||Central Division||Metropolitan Division
|Los Angeles||Minnesota||NY Islanders||Florida|
|San Jose||St. Louis||Philadelphia||Ottawa|
Described as “more geographically-appropriate groupings,” the four new divisions will ensure that all 30 teams play in all 30 arenas at least once per season.
As for the playoff format, here’s more from NHL.com:
Playoff qualification will be primarily Division-based, with the top three finishers in each Division qualifying for the first 12 spots in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (and the first three “seeds” in each Division).
The two additional playoff spots in each Conference, designated as “Wild Cards,” will be awarded to the next two highest-placed finishers in each Conference, ranked on the basis of regular-season points and regardless of Division.
The League will play under this new alignment and playoff system for a minimum of three seasons, through the 2015-16 NHL season.
Under the previous alignment, the league was comprised of six five-team divisions.
Update: Here’s the NHL’s though process on naming the new divisions, as per ESPN.
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said player names were considered for the division names but “dismissed rather quickly.”
“I don’t think there was any strong feeling that we needed to move away from geographic descriptors and orientations, which makes it easier for the fans to follow,” Daly wrote in a email.
“Also, while it’s the nature of any exclusive list, I’m not sure assigning division names to four all-time great players is fair to the all-time great players who would necessarily be excluded in that process.”