The NHL debuted its new four-division format with the start of the 2013-14 regular season. The four-division plan, featuring a new setup for the playoffs, was approved by the League's Board of Governors in March of 2013.
The NHL and NHL Players' Association each had input into the plan to realign the League into a more geographically appropriate two-conference, four-division format that has 16 teams in the Eastern Conference and 14 teams in the Western Conference.
Under realignment, the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets moved to the Eastern Conference to provide them the ability to play the majority of their games against teams in the same time zone. The Winnipeg Jets moved to the Western Conference for the same reason. Similarly, the Dallas Stars stayed in the Western Conference but moved into a division that includes five other teams from the Central time zone.
The new alignment also ensured that all 30 teams play in all 30 arenas at least once per season.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs will consist of 16 teams, eight in each conference, but it is now division-based and a wild-card system was added.
The top three teams in each division make up the first 12 teams in the playoffs. The remaining four spots were filled by the next two highest-placed finishers in each conference, based on regular-season points and regardless of division. Under the new system, it would indeed be possible, then, for one division to send five teams to the postseason while the other sends just three.
Seeding of the wild-card teams within each divisional playoff were determined on the basis of regular-season points. The division winner with the most points in the conference is matched against the wild-card team with the fewest points; the division winner with the second-most points in the conference plays the wild-card team with the second-fewest points.
The teams that finished second and third in each division play in the first round of the playoffs. The winners of each opening-round series now play for berths in the conference championship series.
The winners of the conference championships advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
The LA Kings are proud to announce 5 Playoff Presenting Partners: McDonald’s (Regular Season Presenting Partner), TOYOTA, San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino, Mercury Insurance Company and Travel Alberta. Along with McDonald’s, all were season-long partners and will add to their playoff presence with this commitment. Elements of the presenting partnerships include tags in all Kings marketing efforts, increased in-arena exposure, logos on all in-arena giveaways, and a significant on-line presence.