NHL approves four conference realignment plan 06 Dec 11

(Reuters) – The National Hockey League (NHL) will have a new look next season after the Board of Governors approved a switch to a four conference format on Monday.

In a surprisingly swift decision, governors took just a little over two hours at meetings in Pebble Beach to approve the dramatic makeover, which will see the current two conferences of three divisions each morph into four conferences.

The realignment will feature two eight-team and two seven-team conferences.

The top four teams in each conference will qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs, with the first-placed team playing the fourth and the second-placed team facing off against the third-place finisher.

The four conference champions will then meet in the third round of the playoffs with the survivors playing for the Stanley Cup.

Conference format:

Conference A: Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose, Vancouver Canucks

Conference B: Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, St Louis Blues, Winnipeg Jets

Conference C: Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs.

Conference D: Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals