The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) has given its consent and approval to the NHL’s realignment proposal.
NHLPA executive director Don Fehr released a statement today saying, “After discussions with the Executive Board, the NHLPA has given consent to realignment, to be re-evaluated after the 2014-15 season.”
The only thing standing in the way of making this official is a vote from the NHL Board of Governors, which is expected to happen within a week.
Once finalized, the Minnesota Wild will officially be out of the Northwest Division and move into Mid-West Division along with: Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg.
The NHL will still have two conferences – Eastern and Western – with four total divisions. In the East, they will have two eight-team divisions, while the West will have two seven-team divisions. The rest of the divisions will be as follows:
Mid-West Division: see above
Pacific Division: Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose and Vancouver
Central Division: Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Toronto
Atlantic Division: Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington
The top three teams in each division will make the playoffs, along with four wild card teams, which will be the two best non-division winners in each conference. According to Star Tribune writer and KFAN contributor Michael Russo, the Wild’s schedule breakdown is expected to be a home and home against all the teams in the East (32 games), three games each against teams in the other division (21 games) and either four or five games against the other teams in the division (29 games).