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NHL realignment plan includes four divisions, playoff wild cards

The SportsXchange

The NHL's realignment plan would reduce the number of divisions from six to four and alter the playoffs to include wild-card teams.

The league sent a memo to all 30 teams on Tuesday to confirm reports that have circulated for several days regarding realignment. If the proposal is approved by the NHL Players' Association and the NHL Board of Governors, it would be implemented next season.

The new postseason setup would include divisional playoffs instead of seeding based on conference finish during the regular season. The top three teams in each division would secure berths and the remaining four spots would go to wild cards. The division winner with the most regular-season points would face the lowest-seeded wild card in the first round.

Under the realignment plan, Detroit and Columbus would switch from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference, which is a change from the December 2011 proposal that had the Red Wings and Blue Jackets remaining in the West.

The new Eastern Conference would break down into Atlantic and Central divisions, and the Western Conference would have Mid-West and Pacific divisions:

The divisions would look like this:

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

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

Mid-Wwest: Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg.

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

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