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Leafs happy with potential realignment

Monday, 12.05.2011 / 10:48 PM / NHL Insider

By Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

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Leafs happy with potential realignment
Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson's initial reaction to the Panthers and Lightning would be joining his division next season was met with enthusiasm.
NEW YORK -- Toronto Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson's initial reaction to the news that the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning would be joining his division next season was met with enthusiasm.

Maybe it was for the wrong reasons, though.


"That's good," Wilson said following the Leafs' 4-2 win against the Rangers. "I'm a golfer ... and good weather."

Starting next season, the NHL will be divided into four conferences, pending approval from the National Hockey League Players' Association. The top four teams from each conference will be face each other in a 1 vs. 4, 2 vs. 3 format, with the winners facing each other for the right to reach the semifinals. At that point, the teams will be re-seeded, making it possible for a Stanley Cup Final with all Eastern teams or all Western teams.

"That would actually be nice," Wilson said. "When I think back to when I grew up watching, it would be Montreal and Toronto. That hasn't been possible. I think that's pretty cool."

Montreal and Toronto in the Stanley Cup Final still wouldn't be possible with those teams in the same conference. A potential Original Six matchup between the Leafs and Rangers or Bruins and Rangers could happen, and that's something Rangers goaltender Martin Biron wouldn't mind seeing, either.

"If they're going to bring back four divisions, they should bring back the Patrick, Adams, Norris and Smythe divisions," Biron said. "That's just my personal opinion.

"Everything that's going to be decided is going to be new for this generation (and) it's going to be new for a lot of people. It's going to take time to adjust. For as long as I can remember, it was always a Western Conference team playing an Eastern Conference team for the Cup. So who knows what this will bring. But at the same time, the League has done a good of marketing the teams, the players. The PA has done a great job to get involved in it and help out. So I think whatever they come up with is going to be positive stuff."

Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul, who scored the game-winning goal Monday night, spoke afterward and had a similar view on realignment to that of his coach.

"I love the sun," Lupul said. "So we're going to Florida and Tampa more? Great."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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I watched many times this year the series between the Russians and Canada in 1972, and he was a dominating player there. After I watched the tapes, I respect him a lot more because he turned the series around. He was the guy. In that time, he was the best in the world. It’s a big honor for me to tie him.

— Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr on scoring the 717th goal of his career to tie Phil Esposito for fifth on the NHL's all-time goals list after a 4-3 win vs. the Lightning on Sunday