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NHL realignment includes four divisions, wild card teams

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TSN.ca Staff
2/26/2013 3:18:23 PM
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The National Hockey League's new realignment plan, being worked on with the NHL Players' Association, includes four divisions in two conferences with wild-card spots for the playoffs.

The plan was laid out in a league memo that was sent to all 30 teams on Tuesday and obtained by TSN.

Instead of going to four conferences as was the original plan in December 2011, the new plan calls for two conferences containing two divisions each.

Western Conference Eastern Conference
Pacific Mid-West Central Atlantic
Anaheim Chicago Boston Carolina
Calgary Colorado Buffalo Columbus
Edmonton Dallas Detroit New Jersey
Los Angeles Minnesota Florida NY Islanders
Phoenix Nashville Montreal NY Rangers
San Jose St. Louis Ottawa Philadelphia
Vancouver Winnipeg Tampa Bay Pittsburgh
- - Toronto Washington

The playoff format calls for the top three teams in each division to earn post-season berths. The remaining four spots would go to wild-card teams, the top two records remaining in each conference. That means there's a possibility five teams make it from one division and only three from another.

It would be divisional playoffs, not conference playoffs, so 1 vs. 4, 2 vs 3 in the first round. The two fourth seeds would be made up of the wild-card teams. The top division winner based on regular-season points in the standings would face off against the lower-ranked wild-card team. The other division winner would play the higher-ranked wild-card.

First-round winners then meet in second round in the division championship; Third round sees Pacific winner vs. Mid-West winner in Western Conference finals; Central winner versus Atlantic winner in Eastern Conference finals; Eastern and Western Conference champions meet in Stanley Cup finals.

The regular season schedule would see teams play every team in the other conference home and away.

This plan is tentative as it still requires approval from both the NHL Board of Governors and the NHL Players' Association.

The NHL and the NHLPA have been working on this together for three weeks.

Grabovski and Zetterberg (Photo: Abelimages/Getty Images Sport)

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(Photo: Abelimages/Getty Images Sport)
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