(CBS) The NHL approved a radical realignment plan Monday that will have a wide sweeping impact on both the regular season and playoffs.
The league will now have four conferences instead of six divisions. Each conference will have seven teams, with the top four teams from each conference making the playoffs. The first two rounds of the playoffs will consist of solely intraconference matchups, with the No. 1 seed playing the No. 4 seed and the No. 2 seed playing the No. 3 seed. After the first two rounds, the four conference champions will move onto the NHL semifinals and then, of course, the final two teams will square off in the Stanley Cup Finals.
The drawback of this realignment plan is that teams from the same conference can’t meet in the semifinals. The Blackhawks and Red Wings are in the same conference, meaning they can’t meet in what was previously known as the Western Conference Finals.
The plan also calls for teams to play five or six games a year against teams in their own conference and a home-and-home series against all non-conference teams.
The conferences do not have names yet, but this is how they shape up:
New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders
New York Rangers
Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Blue Jays
Columbus Blue Jackets
Detroit Red Wings
St. Louis Blues
Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Los Angeles Kings
San Jose Sharks
While the plan has been approved by the league, it has not been officially implemented yet. The NHLPA is reportedly showing some resistance.