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NHL realignment would create four divisions, wild card spots

02.27.13 at 8:53 am ET
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The NHL’s new proposed realignment plan would take the league from six divisions to four, with four playoff wild-card spots, according to an ESPN report.

Under the new plan, the top three teams in each division would earn postseason spots, and the remaining four playoff spots would go to wild cards, the two next-highest records in each conference.

The division winner with the most regular-season points would play the lowest-seeded wild card team in the first round of the playoffs, and the other division winner in the conference would play the other wild card team.

The plan still must be approved by the NHL Players’ Association and the NHL Board of Governors. If it is approved, it would go into effect for next season. The plan was laid out in an NHL memo sent to all 30 teams Tuesday, which was then leaked to ESPN.com.

The Eastern and Western conferences would be split into two divisions each, with the teams breaking down as follows:

Central Division: Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto.

Atlantic Division: Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington.

Pacific Division: Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose and Vancouver.

Midwest Division: Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg.

This is a slight change from the realignment plan that was proposed and approved by the owners in December 2011, which kept Columbus and Detroit in the West. The players blocked that plan, and the two sides have spent the last three weeks working to develop a new one.

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