The hockey world is abuzz this Sunday with news that the NHL's new realignment plan could be revealed soon, perhaps as early as this week. The CBC's Elliotte Friedman took to Hockey Night in Canada to break the news, stating that he believed the new plan has already been presented to the teams and that the players will be getting a look in the next few days.
The NHL and NHLPA have been working together on this realignment plan after the last proposal by the league was shot down by the union. That original plan had the NHL breaking into four "conferences" with the Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets basically joining what is now the Central Division.
It's probably best that the NHLPA stopped that realignment plan, since it seems as the NHL has found a better solution on how to appease the Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets and some of the Eastern Conference teams worried about their "travel."
Here is the full video from Hotstove last night:
And here is a closer look at the newly proposed "conferences:"
So...a few things to note here.
First, you'll notice that the "East" now has the two conferences with eight teams each, instead of the two Western conferences in the scrapped proposal. To make up for this disparity in postseason chances, Friedman suggests that the league is looking at a Wild Card scenario for the final playoff spots, perhaps similar to what the MLB revealed last season to great success.
Moving Columbus and Detroit to the East also opens up the NHL for expansion, as well as adds flexibility for whatever might happen with the Phoenix Coyotes -- in theory.
It's also very clear that the east coast bias of the league and the media overall would become even more pronounced; those two conferences are absolutely stacked with big name teams. It's almost a certainty that, for the most part, the other two conferences will be getting the short end of the stick when it comes to overall attention.
Which is fine, since the new proposed conference for the Stars is very intriguing.
The Stars would now be in a conference with the Blackhawks, Blues, Wild, Predators, Jets and Avalanche. Aside from games in Denver, all of the in-conference games will now take place in the Central time zone -- home and away. There's also some room here for some very good rivalries to be renewed and created. It will be interesting to see which teams the Stars mix it up with the most.
If you remember, the old proposal had the NHL going back to the divisional playoff format; the top four teams in each division or conference makes the postseason and then the winners of each division face off in the final two rounds. It had been speculated that this playoff format will be altered, however.
Time is running out, however. The NHL needs to finalize a plan soon, since the schedule for next season is usually already mostly in place by this point in the year.