SUN Hockey Pool

Playoff modification key to NHL realignment approval

National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman and company tweaked the originally proposed...

National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman and company tweaked the originally proposed realignment in January 2012. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:46 PM ET

Gary Bettman wants a dramatic new look.

The NHL commissioner sent a memo to the league's 30 teams, including the governors and general managers, Tuesday outlining a realignment plan that would see the league go from six divisions to four with a redesigned playoff format as early as next season.

In a copy of the memo from Bettman and deputy Bill Daly obtained by the QMI Agency, the new alignment plan calls for the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings to be part of a 16-team Eastern Conference. The Western Conference would have 14 teams.

The East would have two eight-team divisions while the West would be made up two seven-team divisions. It should be noted the memo suggests this realignment does leave the NHL "flexibility to move a team in case of relocation."

There would be a crossover to ensure every team plays each other twice. Depending on the conference and division teams are in, they'd play each other five or six times.

The Winnipeg Jets, now playing in the Southeast, would move to the new Midwest Division as the only Canadian team. The beauty of this is four Original Six teams -- Boston, Detroit, Montreal and Toronto -- would play together in the Central with Ottawa, Buffalo, Florida and Tampa.

The NHL can't go ahead with the change without the blessing of the NHL Players' Association and the board of governors. But Bettman and Daly won't take the plan to the board until the players have given their approval.


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