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 NHL.com. "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.