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So it's official, next season we're changing up the schedule, the division (no more), the conferences and the playoffs.

So if you have been ignoring all the re-alignment talk, here is the breakdown:

realignment_cbc.jpg

And here is what those conference look like visually (map by my friend Cassie @dagmar27):
sHB1Ok.png

The key points:
1. Instead of divisions and conferences, now we get 4 conferences. The conferences don't have names yet but we can refer to them based on geography for now) There are two 7 team conferences (Northeast and Atlantic) and two 8 team conferences (the Pacific and Central)
2. You will play a home and home game against every team not in your division, so that means you'll see every team at Rogers Arena at least once per season. Gone are the every odd year to see Crosby, Ovechkin and Stamkos in Vancouver
3. The rest of the games will be against teams in your own conference. In the conference with 7 teams, they'll play six games against each team in their conference. In our conference of 8 teams, we'll alternate playing some of the teams six times and year and some of the teams five times a year.

In the playoffs*:
1. The top 4 teams of each conference makes it into the playoffs. You will then play against your own division for the first two rounds, so to win, you'll have to play your way out of the conference
2. After winning the conference, the top 4 teams will be re-seeded according to points. So the semi-final and SCF could be against anyone in the other 3 conferences.

*The playoff re-seeding idea hasn't been finalized, but this seems like the way its heading. What this means is that the Canucks could end up playing against the Blackhawks for the SCF.

Click here to read more...
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Now thoughts on this:
  • I love having home and home games. As a ticket holder, I have wanted to see this for a long time. It will be great to see every team come through our rink at least once a year
  • No more Minnesota in our division
  • Less Minnesota, Columbus, Nashville and Dallas games in exchange for more LA, Anaheim and San Jose games. Hell yes
  • More potential roadtrips to California or Phoenix for fans
  • The first two rounds of the playoffs could technically occur in the Pacific time zone. Hello 7pm starts
  • Less travel in the first two rounds of the playoffs
  • There is less Chicago games, and we won't ever meet them in the 1st or 2nd round, thus it is true that the rivalry may die out
  • The first two rounds of the playoffs against your own conference will build new rivalries
  • This should be good for the teams like Nashville, Columbus, Dallas and St. Louis in growing their fanbases now that they don't have to play 9 or 10pm games against so many teams in the West
  • If Phoenix moves to somewhere in the East it seems like and easier switch with that conference going to 8 and the Pacific dropping down to 7 teams
  • Teams may get eliminated from playoff contention earlier since it's based on top teams in your conference. Puck Daddy explains this idea better here.
  • If you want some numbers on how much travel each team will have to do in this new format go here

So what do I think? I really like it. I like the home and home games for each team because I do want to have the opportunity to see every team come to Vancouver every year, not every odd year. I also like the conference we are in based on time zones. And I know that team competitiveness changes from season to season, but I find that I care more about the teams in our conference as opposed to the ones in the Central region, so this conference of teams works for me.

And although Minnesota could one day become an exciting hockey team, I've seen enough over the years to say that I am glad we'll only have to watch them play twice a year. So long Minnesota!