– The NHL’s Board of Governors has approved a four-conference format. Conference re-alignment became a hot-button issue once the Atlanta Thrashers were moved to Winnipeg, creating more imbalance in the standings. Voting occurred today–26 teams voted in favor of four-conference realignment, with four teams being opposed.
The plan, finalized on Monday would see one seven team and one eight-team division per conference, replacing the current two-conference, six-division system. The proposed new conferences would be arranged to accommodate both geographical proximity as well as established rivalries. This is how the divisions will break down:
Division 1: Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs.
Division 2: Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals.
Division 3: Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, Winnipeg Jets.
Division 4: Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks.
Each team will now play out-of-conference teams twice per season; once home, once away; while the rest of the scheduled games will be divided amongst conference opponents. In the seven-team Conferences, teams would play six times; three home, three away. In the eight-team Conferences, teams would play either five or six times per season on a rotating basis; three teams would play each other six times and four teams would play each other five times. This process would reverse each season.
In the playoffs, the top four teams in each conference would qualify for the playoffs. The first-place team would play the fourth-place team; the second-place team would play the third-place team. The conference winners would be re-seeded for the third round of the playoffs based on regular season points totals. This opens up the possibility that two teams that are currently in the same conference could conceivably play each other in the Stanley Cup Final.
– Canucks’ assistant GM Laurence Gilman responded to rumours of the team shopping G Roberto Luongo:
“We have no intention of trading Roberto and have not initiated any calls or inquiries.”