NHL realignment inches closer

NHL realignment inches closer

March 7, 2013, 7:00 pm
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Remember when the new NHL realignment plan was first reported about a week or so ago, and the Chicago Blackhawks’ rival, the Detroit Red Wings were pegged to head East? Well, it’s one step away from happening.

The NHLPA gave its OK to the league’s new realignment proposal and all that’s left is getting the Board of Government’s stamp of approval.

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“The NHL Players’ Association confirmed to us today that it has consented to a revised Plan for Realignment, effective for the 2013-14 season,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement. “Our next step will be to bring the proposed Plan for Realignment to the NHL Board of Governors for its consideration. We will update the status of the process as future developments warrant.”

The NHLPA nixed the last realignment proposal, which was drawn up during last season. There have been changes to this one, including Detroit and Columbus moving East. There are still odd divisions – two with seven teams, two with eight – but the league is proposing a wild-card system to even the playing field regarding qualifying for the postseason.

“After discussions with the Executive Board, the NHLPA has given consent to realignment, to be re-evaluated following the 2014-15 season,” NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said in a statement today.

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Once it is approved, realignment starts with the 2013-14 season. A reminder, the Blackhawks’ new division would include Nashville, Dallas, Minnesota, Winnipeg (moving from the East), Colorado and St. Louis.

Travel-wise, the Blackhawks aren’t affected that much; although there’ll be a lot fewer short-flight trips to Detroit and Columbus. But the biggest winners of the West are probably Minnesota and Dallas, who get slammed with distant travel in their current divisions (the Northwest and Pacific, respectively). Their fans will also deal with fewer late start times.

And yes, that means bye-bye to all those Blackhawks-Red Wings games every regular season. As we were reminded with Sunday’s matchup between the two, it’s been fun. All good things must end some time.