Monday evening, the NHL Board of Governors at their meetings in Pebble Beach, Calif., voted by a two-thirds majority, 26-4, in favor of realignment.
The new configuration will have the league’s 30 teams split into four conferences. Read the complete NHL coverage here. Watch NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's announcement here.
During Tuesday’s media availability at the Coliseum, a few of the Islanders players, when asked, shared their thoughts on the proposal which still requires the approval of the National Hockey League Players Association.
“They knew they were going to have to do something,” said Islanders defenseman Steve Staios. “I think that it’s the best way they could have done it to evenly space out travel for everyone and to make it as equal a playing field for everyone.”
Mike Mottau had a similar reaction. “It’s definitely a change,” he said. “It won’t affect the eastern teams as much but it will benefit the western teams. Through the course of the year, travel really wears on teams. They are trying to alleviate some of that.”
In what looks like a good move for NHL fans, next season each team will visit each other once. This gives fans the chance to see teams they may have only ever seen on television in a nationally televised game.
“That was a nice point that they made to have a home-and-home with every team,” Mottau said. The fans, some years don’t get to catch some teams. Next year they will have the opportunity to see each team. It’s a nice adjustment.”
A veteran of the Western Conference, Staios agreed that a return to the format of each team visiting each other is a great for exposure.
“I think that was one thing, when I was in Edmonton, when the Sidney Crosby’s and Ovechkin’s came into the league, there wasn’t a chance to see these new young dynamic players,” said Staios. “Next year, every fan base will get to see every team. I think in that way it’s good for the fans.”
A date for the NHLPA to vote on the Board of Governors proposal has not been set.