The Atlanta Thrashers relocation to Winnipeg this past summer was screaming for a change. There was no way Winnipeg, located in central Canada, could be apart of the Southeast Division. Major debates were held on what to do with Winnipeg and the rest of the league.
The league decided to entirely scrap the current six division set up and create four entirely new divisions. They are mainly based on location, though some divisions remained intact from the current divisional set up. The two “Western” divisions have eight teams each while the two “Eastern” divisions have seven teams each.
New Playoff Structure
Unlike the current format, the divisions don’t come together for the playoffs to make two conferences. The seven game series remains the same as it always has. The new playoff policy is as follows:
- The top four teams in each division make the playoffs
- The 1st and 4th seeds and the 2nd and 3rd seeds play each other
- The winners of those two series play each other for the Division Title
- The four Division winners are reseeded and play each other
- The two winners of the semi-finals play each other in the Stanley Cup Finals
- Four of the six current divisions remain intact in the new seeded league including the Northeast Division, Atlantic Division, Central Division, and Pacific Division
- Every team will play at every arena in the league
- Teams in the “Eastern” Conference will play each team in their division six teams while teams in the “Western” Conference will play each team in their division either five or six times
- Division rivalries are even more important now since they’ll be direct playoff enemies
- The “Western” Conference has two more teams than the “Eastern” Conference so there is flexibility if the Phoenix Coyotes relocate and another realignment won’t have to occur
- There are many new exciting Stanley Cup possibilities including the Boston Bruins versus the Philadelphia Flyers, the Calgary Flames versus the Edmonton Oilers, and the Montreal Canadians versus the New York Rangers.
More to Come..
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