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NHL memo details new realignment plan for 2013-14 season

Sean Leahy
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On Saturday, Elliotte Friedman reported on the NHL's proposed realignment plan for next season during Hockey Night in Canada's Hot Stove segment. Now more details are leaking with approvals still needed from the Board of Governors and the Players' Association.

ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun obtained a memo sent to all 30 teams on Tuesday that outlined the NHL's latest realignment plan.

As a refresher, here's how the league -- Eastern Conference and Western Conference -- would look under this proposal, as reported by Friedman:

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From LeBrun:

The playoff format as detailed in the league memo Tuesday calls for the top three teams in each division to earn postseason berths. The remaining four spots would go to wild cards, the top two records in each conference. That means there's a possibility five teams make it from one division and only three from another.

The schedule matrix would see each team play teams in the other conference both home and away.

There was talk that a potential play-in game, like what Major League Baseball implemented last season, would come into play, but according to this proposal that is not the case.

Via TSN, here is the playoff situation:

It would be divisional playoffs, not conference playoffs, so 1 vs. 4, 2 vs 3 in the first round. The two fourth seeds would be made up of the wild-card teams. The top division winner based on regular-season points in the standings would face off against the lower-ranked wild-card team. The other division winner would play the higher-ranked wild-card.

First-round winners then meet in second round in the division championship; Third round sees Pacific winner vs. Mid-West winner in Western Conference finals; Central winner versus Atlantic winner in Eastern Conference finals; Eastern and Western Conference champions meet in Stanley Cup finals.

Sixteen teams in one conference and 14 in the other might be an issue for some, but overall this plan limits travel and will make television executives very happy. Also, fans will get to see every team at least once in their building. Under this proposal, the league and PA would meet after three seasons to discuss any issues and potential changes.

Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

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