Big changes are coming to the National Hockey League with conference realignment being approved at this week's Board of Governors meetings. These changes are expected to take place for the 2012-13 season.
All 30 teams will be affected, playing some opponents more often than they have in the past and some others not as much. Beyond that, hundreds of players -- a majority of whom have known nothing but the two-conference, six-division format introduced prior to the 1998-99 season -- will have to get used to a new system of Stanley Cup Playoff qualification in which finishing in the top four of your conference is imperative.
Here's a sampling of some of the early reaction and thoughts from players, coaches and executives around the League about realignment:
"This is a fantastic night for the Blue Jackets. This is what's right for the League, but it's also something that will make a big, big difference for our franchise, both on the ice and off the ice. This is huge." -- Columbus president Mike Priest, in the Columbus Dispatch