COLUMBUS, OHIO --- The Columbus Blue Jackets will join the Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Washington Capitals as division rivals in the Eastern Conference next season as the National Hockey League announced today that its plan for realignment has been approved by the League’s Board of Governors.
The realignment plan creates two eight-team divisions in the Eastern Conference and two seven-team divisions in the Western Conference. The names of the divisions will be formalized at a later date. The new alignment will place several clubs in more geographically appropriate groupings and will intensify already-fierce rivalries throughout the League. The new scheduling matrix will ensure that all 30 teams play in all 30 arenas at least once a season for the first time since 1997-98.
“This is a great day for the Columbus Blue Jackets and for our fans who have been consistent in their communications with us that this is something they have wanted to see happen,” said Blue Jackets President Mike Priest. “Realignment addresses the needs of a multitude of teams and makes sense geographically. For our franchise, playing the majority of our games in the Eastern time zone is beneficial from a travel perspective and also positively impacts our television and radio broadcast schedules.”
The new alignment is as follows:
“D” Division – Carolina, COLUMBUS, New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington
“C” Division – Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto
“B” Division – Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, Winnipeg
“A” Division – Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver
As a member of the Eastern Conference, the Jackets will play 30 games vs. divisional opponents – five games vs. two teams (3-home/2-away vs. one and 2-home/3-away vs. one) and four games vs. the remaining five teams (2 home/2 away). The teams will rotate on a yearly basis.
The club will play 24 games against non-division Eastern Conference teams, playing each three times (2 home/1 away vs. four opponents and 1 home/2 away vs. four opponents). The teams will also rotate on a yearly basis. Columbus will also play each of the 14 Western Conference clubs two times (1 home/1 away).
Playoff qualification will be primarily Division-based, with the top three finishers in each Division qualifying for the first 12 spots in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (and the first three "seeds" in each Division).
The two additional playoff spots in each Conference, designated as "Wild Cards," will be awarded to the next two highest-placed finishers in each Conference, ranked on the basis of regular-season points and regardless of Division.
"Seeding" of the Wild Card teams within each Divisional Playoff will be determined on the basis of regular-season points. The first-place finisher with the highest number of regular-season points in the Conference will be matched against the Wild Card team with the lowest number of regular-season points, and the first-place finisher with the second-highest number of regular-season points in the Conference matched against the Wild Card team with the second-lowest number of regular-season points.
The Blue Jackets return to action tonight when they host the Chicago Blackhawks at Nationwide Arena. Game time is 7 p.m. Single game tickets for all Blue Jackets home games start at $26 and are on sale now at the Big Lots Box Office at Nationwide Arena, The OhioHealth Chiller Ice Rinks and all Ticketmaster Ticket Centers. Fans can also purchase tickets by phone at (800) 745‐3000 or online at BlueJackets.com, the official club web site, and ticketmaster.com. For information about full and partial season tickets and group ticket opportunities, call (800) NHL‐COLS or visit BlueJackets.com.