Friday, March 8, 2013

NHLPA Say "Yes" To Realignment

Yesterday, the NHLPA gave its consent to a revised realignment plan that will see the league move to just 4 divisions and will see the East have 16 teams to the West's 14. The Wild will be in a more central division, with Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Nashville, St. Louis, and Winnipeg. During last season, the NHL's Board of Governors voted in favor of a similar realignment plan, but the only difference is that Columbus and Detroit are moving to Eastern divisions, not staying in the West. My post on this can be found here.

So should the BOG votes in favor of this plan, the league will be realigning for the 2013-14 season. But as we learned last year, we will hold the celebration until it becomes official.

There are some pros and cons to this realignment. A big pro to this is the less travel for all teams (Especially the likes of Detroit, Columbus, Minnesota, and Winnipeg), but a big con to this, is the fact the East will have 16 teams and the West only has 14 teams, giving teams in the West a better chance of making the playoffs (A 7% greater chance to make the playoffs in the West). For more on the pros and cons of this, watch the video below taken from NHL Live last night.

The playoff format for this realignment would be the top 4 teams in the division make the playoffs, and then play each other, with the 2 division winners in each conference playing each other for the right to go to the Stanley Cup Final. But there has been talk of adding a Wild card team, but that has not gone forward yet. Look for that to get voted on once realignment becomes official.

If this goes through, Wild fans can get accustomed to watching divisional road games in the same time zone, with the exception of Colorado, who is an hour behind us. So you can say goodbye to many of those late nights while watching the Wild play a big divisional game.

With the future of the club being as bright as it is, the Wild would be favorites in this division every year, along with Chicago and St. Louis. But dont sleep on the other teams. Colorado has some good young players and are continuing to build. Dallas has a collection of veterans on their roster so dark days could be ahead for them. Nashville has been a pain in the Wild's side in recent years. And Winnipeg projects to be the Wild's new main rivalry, and they are a bubble playoff team in the East right now.

If the Wild were to put together a consecutive string of playoff appearances, this would be the format most favorable to that happening.

Again, lets not get too happy right now. The BOG must still vote on this new plan. But it is expected that they move forward with this too.

Here's to hoping the Smyth Division returns.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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