Earlier tonight, the Board of Governor’s meeting made a decision about next season’s conference alignment. For years, the Red Wings have hoped to moved into the Eastern Conference, playing more games within their own time zone and preventing their fans from staying up until 1am watching games out west. With the Atlanta Thrashers moving North (and West) to Winnipeg, the door was open for a new alignment that could see the Wings in a more Eastern Time Zone-friendly field of teams.
It was confirmed by TSN’s Bob McKenzie that the League will go to a four conference format next season — two with 8 teams, two with 7. The news continued to leak: Each team would play a home-and-home against the teams not in their own division.
All that was left was to see where Detroit fell. They didn’t move East, after all… but they got their second wish: more balanced travel so that there wasn’t a gigantic disparity between teams in the former Western Conference and those in the former East.
It looks like they’ll be sharing a division with Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, and Winnipeg. They’ll be able to maintain their rivalries with the Hawks, Predators, and Blues — and won’t have to travel to the California and Western Canadian teams twice in a season.
The two “Western” Conferences now each have 8 teams. The “Eastern” Conferences each have 7. The top four from each division will make the playoffs and play two divisional rounds before the final four square off for the Cup.
The other conferences are as follows:
Los Angeles Kings
San Jose Sharks
Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Maple Leafs
New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders
New York Rangers
In the seven-team conferences, each team plays their conference rivals six times each season. In the eight-team conferences, each team plays their conference rivals five or six times (rotating the opponents they play five every year). Example:
Chicago :: 5 times (6 times next season)
Columbus :: 6 times (5 times next season)
Dallas :: 5 times (…)
Minnesota :: 6 times (…)
Nashville :: 5 times (…)
St. Louis :: 6 times (…)
Winnipeg :: 5 times (…)
TEAMS IN OTHER CONFERENCES :: 22 teams x 2 games = 44