The National Hockey League Player's Association and NHL Board of Governors have come to agreement on a realignment of the NHL, starting in the 2013-14 season.

The league will be split into two conferences (East and West) with two divisions in each conference.  The Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets will be moved from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference, and the Winnipeg Jets will be moving to the West.  Division C will feature four of the NHL's original six teams.

The new alignment will look like this:

Western Conference Eastern Conference
Division A Division C
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
Division B Toronto Maple Leafs
Chicago Blackhawks Division D
Colorado Avalanche Carolina Hurricanes
Dallas Stars Columbus Blue Jackets
Minnesota Wild New Jersey Devils
Nashville Predators New York Islanders
St. Louis Blues New York Rangers
Winnipeg Jets Philidelphia Flyers
  Pittsburgh Penguins
  Washington Capitals

Season Schedule Guidelines

Each conference has a slightly different schedule, due to Western Conference divisions having 7 teams and Eastern Conference divisions having 8 teams.

Western Conference Schedule

  • A full season will consist of 82 games (unchanged).
  • 29 games played within division
  • 21 games played within conference (outside division)
  • 32 games played against non-conference teams

Eastern Conference Schedule

  • A full season will consist of 82 games (unchanged).
  • 30 games played within division
  • 24 games played within conference (outside division)
  • 28 games played against non-conference teams

New Playoff Format

The NHL will be introducing wild card seeds into the playoffs.  Here is an overview of what to expect in the new playoff format:

  • 16 teams in the playoffs
  • 8 teams from each conference (Top 3 teams from each division + 2 wild card teams from each conference)
  • Division winner with most points in conference will face wild card team with fewest points in first round
  • Division winner with second-most points in conference will play wild card team with second fewest points in first round
  • Teams placed 2nd and 3rd in each division will play each other in first round
  • Winners of each series will play for berth in conference championship
  • Conference champions will play in Stanley Cup Final

This realignment will provide for some interesting hockey.  One conference featuring four of the original six teams will be a great treat for long-time hockey fans.  The Detroit Red Wings will finally be moved out of the Western Conference, where they were subject to long road-trips and late-night games.  The new realignment was designed to geographically separate teams, and it has accomplished that.

The details of the realignment were reported by Dan Rosen on the official NHL website.

What do you think about the realignment?