NHL Realignment: Four Divisions and a New Playoff Format

USA TODAY Sports

Details leaked Tuesday of how the proposed realignment will introduce a "Wild Card" system to the NHL's playoff procedures.

NHL realignment talk reached fever pitch Tuesday morning as ESPN's Pierre LeBrun and TSN's Bob McKenzie tweeted confirmation of what Elliotte Friedman reported over the weekend -- that the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets, under a revised proposal, could be moving to the Eastern Conference.

Terminology surrounding the terms of the realignment has shifted from "conferences" back to "divisions" now thanks to a quirk in the playoff seeding procedures.

Under the previous proposal the first two rounds of the playoffs would have taken place entirely within the "conferences" (divisions). The revised proposal is that the top three teams in each division will qualify, with the remaining two "wild card" spots coming from teams with the best records/tie-breakers, regardless of division.

Which is to say that it will be possible for one division to send five teams to the playoffs, while the other in the conference may send only three.

The divisions are still as talked about on Sunday...

The Eastern Conference...

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And the Western Conference...

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The "conference 3" type monikers will go away in lieu of more familiar geographical designations.

The Stars will be in what's to be called the "Mid-West" division, the Kings and Canucks will battle in the "Pacific" division. In the East the Red Wings will butt heads with Boston in the "Central" division and Columbus will struggle to gain relevance in the "Atlantic" division.

Gary Bettman notoriously withholds proposals like these until he's quite certain the owners will vote them in, though this one has been carefully planned in conjunction with the players association over the last three weeks. It is not final and must be ratified by both the board of governors and the NHLPA.

Final word could come down in the coming weeks, and it will need to if the schedule matrix (which again, will include every team in the league playing against each other at least one team each home and away) is to be completed in a timely fashion.

How do you like the Stars' chances in a division such as this for years to come?

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