Board of Governors Approves Realignment, Division-Based Playoff Format 14 Mar 13

      NEW YORK (March 14, 2013) — The National Hockey League’s Board of Governors has approved realignment and a division-based format for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, effective for the 2013-14 season. The realignment plan creates two eight-team divisions in the Eastern Conference and two seven-team divisions in the Western Conference. The names of the divisions will be formalized at a later date.

      The new alignment will place several clubs in more geographically appropriate groupings and will intensify already-fierce rivalries throughout the League. The new scheduling matrix will ensure that all 30 teams play in all 30 arenas at least once a season.

      The new alignment:

WESTERN CONFERENCE                      EASTERN CONFERENCE

Division A      Division B              Division C       Division D

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

      Among the many strategic goals achieved by the realignment plan:

* provides the Winnipeg Jets a more geographically suitable grouping of rivals;

* enables the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings to compete primarily against clubs in their own time zone;

* moves the Dallas Stars out of the Pacific Division to a more geographically appropriate and time-zone friendly grouping;

* changes the Minnesota Wild’s alignment to a more historically relevant and time zone friendly grouping;

* ensures that the Colorado Avalanche, as the only U.S.-based team in the Mountain Time Zone, is placed in a more geographically suitable grouping.

NEW REGULAR-SEASON SCHEDULE MATRIX

Western Conference (7-Team Divisions)

Within Conference (Division): 29 games
* 5 games vs. five teams (3 Home/2 Away vs. two teams, 2 Home/3 Away vs.
three teams) AND 4 games vs. one team (2 Home/2 Away). Teams rotated on a yearly basis.
* 5 X 5 =25 games
* 1 X 4 = 4 games

Within Conference (Non-Division): 21 games
* 3 games vs. each team (2 Home/1 Away vs. four teams, 1 Home/2 Away vs.
three teams). Teams rotated on a yearly basis.
* 3 X 7 = 21 games

Non-Conference: 32 games
* 2 games vs. each team (1 Home/1 Away)
* 2 X 16 = 32 games

(Exception: one team from each division plays one less game inside Division and one more game inside Conference outside Division)

Eastern Conference (8-Team Divisions)

Within Conference (Division): 30 games
* 5 games vs. two teams (3 Home/2 Away vs. one team, 2 Home/3 Away vs. one
team) AND 4 games vs. five teams (2 Home/2 Away). Teams rotated on a yearly basis.
* 5 X 2 =10 games
* 4 X 5 = 20 games

Within Conference (Non-Division): 24 games
* 3 games vs. each team (2 Home/1 Away vs. four teams, 1 Home/2 Away vs.
four teams). Teams rotated on a yearly basis.
* 3 X 8 = 24 games

Non-Conference: 28 games
* 2 games vs. each team (1 Home/1 Away)
* 2 X 14 = 28 games

NEW STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF FORMAT

      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.

      “Seeding” of the Wild Card teams within each Divisional Playoff will be determined on the basis of regular-season points. The first-place finisher with the highest number of regular-season points in the Conference will be matched against the Wild Card team with the lowest number of regular-season points, and the first-place finisher with the second-highest number of regular-season points in the Conference matched against the Wild Card team with the second-lowest number of regular-season points.

      The Playoffs will proceed as follows:

* #1 vs. #4 / #2 vs. #3 — winners play each other for berth in Conference Championship
* Conference Finals — Two advancing teams in the West and two advancing teams in the East meet in Conference Championship
* Eastern and Western Conference Champions will meet in Stanley Cup Final.

      The National Hockey League Players’ Association has given its consent to play under this new Alignment and Playoff System for a minimum of three seasons, through the 2015-16 NHL season.