Realignment map

PHT Morning Skate: Where we look at realignment

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Has New Jersey Devils goaltender Johan Hedberg turned a corner? (The Bergen Record)

A number of hyped rookies like Chris Kreider, Sven Baertschi, Mikael Granlund are back in the minors, but it might be better for them in the long run. (Calgary Sun)

Enforcer Matt Kassian might make his Ottawa Senators debut on Saturday. Ottawa acquired him from Minnesota on Tuesday. (Ottawa Citizen)

With the realignment plan official, the Chicago Blackhawks will be losing the Detroit Red Wings as a division rival, but they’ll enjoy home-and-home series against their fellow Original Six members every season. (CSN Chicago)

The Nashville Predators will also lose the Red Wings as a division rival, but they voted in favor of this plan. Predators COO Jeff Cogen pointed out that the Predators will gain the Minnesota Wild as a division rival, which will make for plenty of Ryan Suter vs Shea Weber matches. (The Tennessean)

Meanwhile we can think of at least one team that should be very, very happy that the realignment plan is official. (Winnipeg Sun)

If the Edmonton Oilers are going to make the playoffs, it will be by doing a better job at home. (Edmonton Sun)

What has been holding the Detroit Red Wings back this season? (Detroit Free Press)

Bettman: realignment vote wasn’t unanimous, but still passed easily

Steven Stamkos shoots

Not all 30 NHL teams voted for realignment, but according to commissioner Gary Bettman, the plan’s approval rate was “well in excess” of the three-quarters that was required.

Bettman — who held a conference call today with reporters — didn’t say which team(s) voted no, but if we were to speculate, it’s possible one of them was Tampa Bay. The Lightning will move into a division with their state rivals, the Florida Panthers, but also with six teams — the Bruins, Sabres, Maple Leafs, Red Wings, Senators and Canadiens — who are a significant distance away.

Lightning general Steve Yzerman said recently that the increased travel, along with the hassle associated with crossing the border to Canada, “are things that we don’t like about it for our organization.”

The Panthers, by the way, said today that they “certainly approve of and are very excited by the NHL’s realignment plan. Not only will we maintain and grow our in-state rivalry with the Lightning, but we will also be able to cultivate rivalries with some of the NHL’s most historic clubs.”

We imagine all the snowbirds that can be seen wearing Leafs and Habs jerseys at Panthers games also factored into the organization’s approval of the plan.

As for other teams that may have voted against realignment, this is pure speculation, but we wonder about the Chicago Blackhawks, who will lose their rivals from Detroit to the Eastern Conference while adding more trips to Winnipeg.

Also, how do Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix and/or San Jose feel about losing Dallas as a division mate and making more long, cross-border trips to Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver?

It’s official: NHL realignment approved for next season

Gary Bettman

The National Hockey League will have a decidedly new look in 2013-14.


On Thursday, the league officially announced realignment had been approved by the NHL’s Board of Governors, the final step required after the NHLPA agreed to realignment seven days ago.

The most notable changes are Detroit and Columbus moving to the Eastern Conference and Winnipeg moving to the West. Dallas, Minnesota and Colorado will all stay in the Western Conference, but move into “more geographically appropriate and time-zone friendly” divisions.

The other notable change? The new new alignment ensures that all 30 teams play in all 30 arenas at least once a season for the first time since 1997-98.

Here’s the breakdown:


As for the postseason…

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 the divisional championship.

As for the reaction to realignment? Responses have varied, though you can count Columbus among those pleased by the development.

“[This realignment] would help us in so many ways that it’s really hard to exaggerate how much it means to us,” Blue Jackets president Mike Priest told the Columbus Dispatch.

The club is anticipating bigger rivalries against the likes of regional foes such as New York, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Toronto, and is happy to be playing 68 games in the Eastern time zone (rather than 50-53 in previous seasons.)

For more on the new schedule matrix and breakdown of the alignment plan, click here.

NHL to vote on realignment this week

Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens

Fax machines will be whirring today (is that what they do? whir? whatever, they’ll be in use) as NHL clubs vote on the league’s realignment proposal.

It’s not clear when an official announcement will be made, but it shouldn’t be long. The NHLPA has already approved the plan.

Once again, here’s how the new NHL should look next season:


About those division names. A league source tells the Winnipeg Free Press that two of them will be different next season — the Midwest will become the Central, while the Central Division will get another, yet-to-be-determined name. (The Flortheast Division maybe.)

NHLPA approves realignment

Donald Fehr: Sidney Crosby

NHL players are officially on board with the league’s plan for realignment.

“After discussions with the Executive Board, the NHLPA has given consent to realignment, to be re-evaluated following the 2014-15 season,” said the union’s executive director, Don Fehr, in a statement released Thursday evening.

In December of 2011, the NHL announced a “radical” realignment plan that split the league into four “conferences” as opposed to its current structure of two conferences with three divisions in each.

However, the NHLPA eventually scuttled the plan, citing concerns over travel as well as the fairness of the proposed playoff qualification system.

The league’s last reported proposal was back to two conferences — Western and Eastern — with four divisions.

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

New Jersey
New York Islanders
New York Rangers

Central Division

Tampa Bay

Western Conference

Mid-West Division

St. Louis

Pacific Division

Los Angeles
San Jose

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly released the following statement following the union’s announcement:

“The NHL Players’ Association confirmed to us today that it has consented to a revised plan for realignment, effective for the 2013-14 season. Our next step will be to bring the proposed plan for realignment to the NHL Board of Governors for its consideration. We will update the status of the process as future developments warrant.”

Related: NHL will address how expansion/relocation impacts realignment if it happens