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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- The NHL's Board of Governors on Monday approved a radical realignment plan, eliminating the current two-conference, six-division setup in favor of a configuration that features four conferences based primarily on geography. Two conferences will have eight teams and the other two conferences will have seven teams.

The Board authorized Commissioner Gary Bettman to implement this proposal in Monday evening's vote, pending input from the National Hockey League Players' Association.

The vote, which required a two-thirds majority of the League's 30 governors, passed on the first of two days of meetings here at The Inn at Spanish Bay. The League's new structure will go into effect starting next season.

The makeup of the yet-to-be-named four conferences is as follows:

* New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Washington and Carolina

* Boston, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Buffalo, Florida and Tampa Bay

* Detroit, Columbus, Nashville, St. Louis, Chicago, Minnesota, Dallas and Winnipeg

* Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Colorado

The four conferences are designed to alleviate geographic concerns among several current Western Conference teams that had been unhappy about their extensive travel through one, two, and sometimes even three time zones. Some of those teams argued that the late start of road games in the Pacific time zone were affecting fan interest, especially among younger fans.

The new alignment also enables the NHL to create a balanced schedule in which all teams will play each other at least twice every season, once at home and once on the road, giving fans a chance to see every team and superstar in the League. The remaining games will be played within the conferences.

In the seven-team conferences, teams would play six times -- three home, three away. In the eight-team Conferences, teams would play either five or six times in a season on a rotating basis; three teams would play each other six times and four teams would play each other five times. This process would reverse each season: An eight-team Conference member that plays an opponent six times in one season would play it five times the following season.

The top four teams in each Conference qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The first-place team would play the fourth-place team; the second-place team would play the third-place team. The four respective Conference champions would meet in the third round of the Playoffs, with the survivors playing for the Stanley Cup.
 

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So, for the Pens, we got everyone we really hate in the conference plus Carolina.
 

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I am not sure how I feel about these conferences yet but it could be interesting. We have the Staal brothers to play each other more regularly and we maintain the all important Philly rivalry. Not to mention we can battle for the top spot with Washington now too.
 

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I like the fact that we play the Western teams twice a year too.
 

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every team plays each other twice. thats okay but i'd rather see teams play each other where it actually matters in the standings. i'd have rather seen buffalo instead of the islanders in this division though.
 

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The atlantic conf will be very tough. My concern is how they work the playoffs.
They should seed the eastern conf 1-8 by most points. 1-8, 2-7,3-6,4-5 and the same for the other conferences just like they do now.
 

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Dan Castle said:
every team plays each other twice. thats okay but i'd rather see teams play each other where it actually matters in the standings. i'd have rather seen buffalo instead of the islanders in this division though.
The Islanders belong in the California Penal League.
 

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bird_dog_pa said:
The atlantic conf will be very tough. My concern is how they work the playoffs.
They should seed the eastern conf 1-8 by most points. 1-8, 2-7,3-6,4-5 and the same for the other conferences just like they do now.
I think top 4 in each "conference" go. They then pay each other to establish a conference champion. If true, this would mean that the hardest playoff series for our "conference" would be the early rounds, generally.
 
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