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NHL Insider

Realignment rekindles some old-school rivalries

Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 6:49 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Dick Patrick has been part of the Washington Capitals organization for 27 years. His arrival coincided with a string of postseason appearances in the 1980s and early 1990s when the NHL had a divisional playoff format for the first two rounds.

Consider Patrick among the members of the NHL Board of Governors excited to see the League return to a similar format after the Board voted Monday in favor of a realignment plan that includes a four-conference setup, with the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to be played within those conferences.

"Playing within your division or conference in the first two rounds really solidifies these rivalries," Patrick told "That's why we have such great rivalries with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. It is from those (divisional) years, and when those teams come to town the fans get all excited. They are really special games."

The first playoff series victory in Washington franchise history came against the Flyers in 1984. The most famous goal in franchise history -- Dale Hunter's playoff overtime tally -- came against Philadelphia in 1988. 

Daly foresees few realignment issues with PA

Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 5:21 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. --While the Board of Governors has given Commissioner Gary Bettman the authority to realign the NHL into four conferences based primarily on geography, the intention is still for the League to get the consent of the National Hockey League Players' Association before creating a schedule for the 2012-13 season.

Realignment can be viewed as a rule change, which would require a discussion with the PA, said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly on Tuesday after the two-day Board of Governors gathering adjourned.
Daly stressed, though, that the League does not anticipate any push back from the NHLPA and the intention remains for the new alignment and balanced schedule to be in place for the start of the 2012-13 season.

Blue Jackets pleased with realignment

Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 3:36 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- The Columbus Blue Jackets were one of a handful of teams the NHL was trying to satisfy with its radical realignment proposal that was approved by the Board of Governors Monday.

Judging by some of the reactions of coach Scott Arniel and the Blue Jackets players on Tuesday, it would appear that mission was accomplished.

"Obviously for us, anything that reduces our travel would be good," Arniel said. "Having to go to the west coast as much as we do, even Mountain Time, has been very difficult. Coming home we're either losing two or three hours. For us being in the central (time zone) will be real good for us.

"Not everybody will be happy, but I think that the League has looked at a lot of different situations and this one is probably the one most people are satisfied with."

The Blue Jackets and Red Wings are currently the only two teams in the Western Conference who are in the Eastern time zone, making it more difficult for their fans to watch a lot of their road games and also adding a burden on the players.

League's precincts check in with realignment reaction

Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 2:33 PM / NHL Insider

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

Red Wings, Blues excited by idea of less travel

Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 1:25 PM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- From the perspectives of the St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings on NHL realignment, there's one common denominator that has both teams excited.

Particularly for the Red Wings, who have to play out of the Eastern time zone, cutting down on travel is something that really excites them.

"The initial reaction is I like the format," defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said. "It's going to be a lot less travel for the team. That part I like."

A hypothetical glance at realignment changes

Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 11:39 AM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

Starting next season, the NHL will be transformed from a league with six divisions to one with four conferences, pending approval from the players' association. There will be two conferences with eight teams and two conferences with seven teams, which is similar to what the NHL landscape looked like before the 1993-94 season.

The top-four teams from each conference will make the playoffs. The concept of finishing in the top 8 has gone by the way side. Instead, beating the six or seven other teams within your conference and cracking the top 4 within that group becomes paramount.

Solid road trip has Islanders back in hunt

Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 12:58 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- It's amazing how a solid road trip can change your outlook on things.

The New York Islanders, who secured only three victories between Oct. 15 and Nov. 17, are suddenly back in the mix after going 3-0-1 on a four-game road trip. New York picked up wins in New Jersey, Buffalo and Dallas and suffered a shootout loss at Chicago to earn 7 of a possible 8 points.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the Isles' recent surge? They didn't receive a single goal from No. 1 center John Tavares, who hasn't scored since an empty-net tally against Washington on Nov. 5. However, the first pick from the 2009 NHL Draft does have 5 assists over the last two games.

"It can be frustrating, but it's a lot more fun when we're winning and that's the ultimate goal for everybody," said Tavares, who last beat a goaltender on Oct. 29 against San Jose. "As much as I want to contribute that way, I think it's good to see us get back on track. Hopefully we can take advantage of these few games at home and build off of last week."  

Realignment proved best option for multiple teams

Monday, 12.05.2011 / 11:30 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- There was a "simple" option for NHL realignment discussed during the first day of the League's Board of Governors meetings, but as Commissioner Gary Bettman noted, "Simple may have not been so simple."

So instead of just shuffling Winnipeg to the Central Division and either Detroit or Columbus to the Southeast, the Board approved a more dramatic change, but also one that helps ease the concerns of more franchises. The new four-conference format is expected to help most teams, either with lessened travel, more games in the local time zone or more games against the League's marquee opponents -- or all of the above.

On first glance, Crosby likes realignment plan

Monday, 12.05.2011 / 10:56 PM / NHL Insider

Sidney Crosby didn't have much time to digest a complicated realignment plan passed by the NHL Board of Governors on Monday night.

But, his initial take, just moments after his Pittsburgh Penguins suffered a 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins at Consol Energy Center, was a positive one.

"I think that's pretty much what we're used to except we're adding a couple of teams," Crosby said. "I don't think it's that big of a deal. I think everyone's probably happy with that. Washington's a pretty good rival... I don't see anyone being disappointed about this."

Leafs happy with potential realignment

Monday, 12.05.2011 / 10:48 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

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."
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