NHL Realignment: How Should "Final Four" Match-ups Play Out?

The talking points of the new alignment are nearly inexhaustible. At some point last night a great many of you realized the Dallas Stars will have (if NHLPA approval is received) gone from playing the L.A. Kings and the Sharks, etc, as many as EIGHT times in the post-lockout era to only twice a year under this new plan. Division, pardon me, "conference rivals" will not even get the six game treatment under the new agreement every year. Three of the seven will be played six times and four will be played five times, if you follow me.

If those 38 intra-conference games are not enough for you then you'll be glad to know that the first two rounds of the playoffs will also be contested between teams in the same grouping.

The Stars can't have a four overtime classics against the Sharks in the second round any longer. The Edmonton Oilers cannot possibly meet Dallas every year in round one, as was their custom for an extended period. The playoff rivalries you knew and loved are a thing of the past. They'll go way back now, and renew rivalries with the Blues, Red Wings and Blackhawks, or else engage in new battles with the Predators. The Wild and the Jets might also be there, but I digress.

After the first two rounds there's some confusion. It's not yet known if the winners of the Pacific and Central Conferences will play each other in a sort of "Western Conference Final," or if a re-seeding will take place, opening the possibility of West/East and East/West "final four" match-ups. Imagine the Canucks and Wild in the "Stanley Cup Finals." Imagine the Penguins and the Bruins.

Would such a re-seeding that late produce a final product that is truly the best two teams? Or would restricting the first two rounds to "intra-conference" play eliminate certain elite teams too early along the way? Gary Bettman said that the Board of Governors would let the General Managers decide that portion of the change.

What say you?

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