NPR : News

Filed Under:

NHL Realignment: New Divisions Drawn To Ease Time Zone Conflicts

The NHL will shuffle its teams before next season, moving from three divisions in each conference to a total of four divisions in the Eastern and Western Conferences. The league's owners approved the plan Thursday; the players' association gave its OK last week.

The plan brings the biggest changes to the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets, both of which will move to the Eastern Conference, and the Winnipeg Jets, which will head to the Western Conference. Those teams, and their fans, will now deal with fewer time zone conflicts during the regular season. And they're not alone.

"No one is a bigger beneficiary of this than the Dallas Stars," team president Jim Lites tells the CBC. "We've spent quite a bit of time competing two time zones away in the West, which is always difficult."

The new system also includes a scheduling directive that each NHL team will play in every arena at least once during the regular season — a move that should allow more fans to watch stars such as Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, the current scoring leader.

That provision will also allow teams like Detroit, which is leaving longtime rivals that include the Chicago Blackhawks, to maintain a sense of tradition.

The case for realignment was strengthened, says NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, by the move of the Atlanta Thrashers team to Winnipeg. After that switch, the Jets remained in the Southeast division of the Eastern Conference, forcing teams to travel between Manitoba, Florida, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C., for division games.

"I think it's very exciting for us as an organization and for our fans to be geographically located where we ought to be," Winnipeg Jets chairman Mark Chipman tells the NHL website. "It looks like from a League perspective [realignment] solved a lot of issues, so we're very supportive of it."

The new divisions have not yet been named; for now, they are going by letters A,B,C, and D. A new post at SBNation lays out several naming options, including returning to the old "Patrick, Adams, Norris, Smythe" lineup.

The playoff picture will also change, thanks to a new wild-card system. With a total of 30 teams, the NHL opted to unbalance its two main units, putting 16 in the Eastern and 14 in the Western Conference.

"The top three teams in each division will make the playoffs and the final two spots in each conference will be filled by the next two highest-placed finishers," reports, "based on regular-season points and regardless of division."

This season's NHL's Stanley Cup playoffs begin on April 30.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit

WAMU 88.5

The Music And Legacy Of Motown

Motown founder Berry Gordy and director Charles Randolph-Wright of “Motown the Musical" join Diane for a conversation about the history of Detroit's famous sound.

WAMU 88.5

Will Montgomery County Go "Bottoms Up" On Liquor Laws?

Since Prohibition, Montgomery County has held the purse strings on liquor sales, meaning the county sells every drink from beer to bourbon to local bars and restaurants. But local business owners are pushing back from this system, claiming it lacks efficiency and leaves customers waiting. County officials say they are holding out for alternatives that protect those within the industry. We discuss both sides of the issue today.

WAMU 88.5

Exelon's Chief Strategy Officer On Its Proposed Takeover Of Pepco

Kojo chats with Exelon's chief strategy officer about the company's vision for electric service in the Washington region, and its argument for why its acquisition of Pepco is in the best interest of customers.

WAMU 88.5

Computer Guys And Gal

Another year is coming to a close and the Computer Guys And Gal are here to discuss this year's biggest technology news, including the growth of virtual reality and the "Internet of Things."

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.