NHL Realignment Agreed to by NHLPA: Predators to Lose Red Wings as Division Rival

The NHL proposal which was discussed two weeks ago, which features four divisions, was agreed to by the NHLPA today, as reported by TSN among others:

NHLPA executive director Don Fehr released a statement on Thursday, saying, "After discussions with the Executive Board, the NHLPA has given consent to realignment, to be re-evaluated following the 2014-15 season."

In an NHL memo obtained by TSN last week, the league proposed an Eastern Conference with 16 teams and a Western Conference with 14 teams.

A vote from the NHL Board of Governors is expected within the week to make the plan official.

...

The top three teams in each division would make the playoffs, along with the four wild-card teams - the best two non-division winners in each conference.

The new layout is as follows:

West 1 East 1
Chicago Blackhawks Carolina Hurricanes
Colorado Avalanche Columbus Blue Jackets
Dallas Stars New Jersey Devils
Minnesota Wild New York Islanders
Nashville Predators New York Rangers
St. Louis Blues' Philadelphia Flyers
Winnipeg Jets Pittsburgh Penguins
Washington Capitals
West 2 East 2
Anaheim Ducks Boston Bruins
Calgary Flames Buffalo Sabres
Edmonton Oilers Detroit Red Wings
Los Angeles Kings Florida Panthers
Phoenix Coyotes Montreal Canadiens
San Jose Sharks Ottawa Senators
Vancouver Canucks Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Maple Leafs

As I wrote a couple weeks ago, I love this format. Sure, the Predators lose Detroit as a familiar rival, but Dallas, Colorado, St. Louis and even Minnesota all have the makings of great rivalries in years to come (not to mention Chicago already). In particular, the playoff format should help develop those rivalries, especially once the NHL expands to 32 teams and it can ditch the wild-card stuff.

As for the playoffs, here's a bit more on that from ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun from when this format first became news:

The playoff format as detailed in the league memo Tuesday calls for the top three teams in each division to earn postseason berths. The remaining four spots would go to wild cards, the top two records in each conference. That means there's a possibility five teams make it from one division and only three from another.

So what's your take on all this? Take this opportunity to take the new SB Nation commenting features for a spin, the new "spoilers" tool looks very interesting...

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