The NHL’s Board of Governors approved a plan to move the NHL to four conferences (two of eight teams, two of seven) that could begin as early as the 2012-2013 season. The move will place the St. Louis Blues in a conference with teams from the Central and Eastern time zones. The realignment also guarantees that each team will play at least once in St. Louis.
The top four teams from each conference will make the playoffs with the first two rounds of the playoffs squaring up conference opponents. Further discussions will determine how they will set up semifinal and Stanley Cup matchups.
The Blues will share a conference (yet to be named) with Chicago, Detroit, Dallas, Minnesota, Columbus, Nashville, and Winnipeg.
The NHL considered two plans to accommodate Atlanta’s move to Winnipeg this past summer. The first would have simply moved the Jets to the Central Division and either Detroit or Columbus to the Southeast. This new format will increase overall travel in the regular season, especially for Eastern Conference teams who will now have more trips West, but it cuts down on travel for some Western Conference teams.
New York Islanders
New York Rangers