UPDATED: Owners approve new alignment for 2012-13


The NHL’s Board of Governors on Monday approved a radical realignment plan championed by Commissioner Gary Bettman that eliminates the current set up of two conference with three divisions each. The new configuration calls for four conferences, based largely in geography — two with seven teams, two with eight — and a new playoff format.

The Canadiens will be in a conference with Boston, Toronto, Ottawa, Buffalo, Florida and Tampa Bay. That’s the current Northeast Division plus the two Florida teams.

Each team in the league will play a home-and-home series against every non-conference team and the rest of their schedule will be within the conference.

The top four teams in each conference will make the playoffs. The postseason format calls for a 1-4, 2-3 first round within the conference, with the winners facing each other in the second round. In the third round, the remaining four teams will be re-seeded according to their regular season standings using the 1-4, 2-3 format in the semi final round. The winners would then play for the Stanley Cup.

UPDATE: There has not been a final decision made on what happens after the conference champions have been decided. How the third round matchups will be determined will be on the agenda for the GMs meeting in March.

The other conferences, none of which have yet been named, are:

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

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

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

There will, apparently, no longer be an Eastern or Western Conference for the first time since the NHL’s original post-WWII expansion of 1967.

The driving idea for this set-up was to group the teams more geographically and to preserve existing rivalries. But the Canadiens’ new conference — with the five current Northeast teams plus two Florida clubs — is perhaps the oddest grouping of the four.

This came about because earlier versions of the set up had divided the Flyers and Penguins, putting them in different conferences. That was not acceptable to those clubs. So some juggling began and both Pennsylvania teams were then united in the conference with the Canadiens and their Northeast brethren.

But that was apparently not to the liking of the Flyers and the Penguins, who have strong rivalries with the three New York-area teams. Most likely, Ed Snider, the Flyers powerful owner, lobbied Bettman to preserve those rivalries.

So the swap was made — the Pennsylvania teams for the Florida teams.

This will increase the travel for the Panthers and Lightning, but the trade-off is they will get more visits from the Canadian teams, who draw very well in Tampa Bay and Sunrise during the winter because of the large Snowbird populations there. Anyone who has ever seen the Panthers and Lightning host the Canadiens knows that these arenas are packed — and the visitors get much more of the fan support for those games than the home teams.

And for the Canadiens and the other teams in their conference, it means a few extra trips south during the winter. Not a bad thing.

With only seven teams in the Habs conference, there is room for the addition of a club from Quebec City, should a team relocate or an expansion franchise be granted there.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly outlined the changes on the NHL Network Monday night:

This new alignment won’t be implemented until Bettman meets with NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr to hear the concerns the Players Association might have about the new set up. Some of those concerns were relayed to Larry Brooks of the New York Post who published them in Sunday’s editions of his paper. UPDATE: Brooks wrote the Players Association does not have veto power over the plan, but Bettman will meet with them nonetheless. But the NHLPA maintains it does. TSN’s Darren Dreger tweeted Monday night that NHLPA spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon told him, “Realignment requires an agreement between the league and the NHLPA.”

Next order of business? Naming the conferences. They can’t really call the Canadiens’ group the Northeast Conference now, can they? The Jean Beliveau Conference sounds pretty good.


  1. moan_for_moen says:

    just wondering about why not having 2 wild card positions in which they would replace 2 teams if they have a higher point total then anyone in 4th in another conference

  2. icemachine says:

    Not bad grouping overall, I would put Nashville and the 2 Florida teams into the current Atlantic grouping and Washington and Carolina as the two Southeast teams in the Northeast, which would keep the 15 team East/West split.

    Its time to switch to whiskey, we’ve been drinkin’ beer all night

  3. Everlasting1 says:

    UPDATE: Quebec City and Hartford have reported the inclusion of their 2 returning franchises – the Nordiques and the Whalers.. much to the chagrin of those conference teams who thought they’d have it easy with a 7-team division.

    “For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the Gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD.” Exodus 12:12

    “We don’t see things as they are, but as we are.” – Anais Nin

  4. 100HABS says:

    Anybody notice that by putting all Canadian teams in two conferences, this makes it impossible to have more than 2 Canadian teams in the final four?

    This is part of Bettman’s plan, I’m sure.

    • MasterHab says:

      Don’t forget about Winnipeg, which is the lone Canadian team in the conference that includes Detroit, Chicago and Minnesota. There is Canadian representation in three of the four conferences. The lazy way out would have been to lump Winnipeg in with the other Western Canadian teams but this way makes more geographical sense. The Jets will get to play in the Central time zone more often this way.

      As for the other 6 current Canadian teams, this is the alignment that makes sense. Vancouver and the two Alberta teams in the same conference is a no-brainer and the same goes for Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto (and Quebec City, down the road when the Coyotes get relocated) To split either of these groups up wouldn’t make any sense.

    • Stev.R says:

      Makes it easier to have two Canadian teams in the final four

  5. wall2bay says:


    To name them anything else would just be wrong! Can’t say Northeast when you got Florida in it. Colorado, Phoenix, Calgary and Edmonton are miles away from the Pacific Ocean.

    “I kind of feel sorry for players who never got a chance to be a Montreal Canadien” – Cammalleri

    • Habspark says:

      It would make my YEAR if we could have the old division names back (or something along the lines of at least), but considering Gary ‘I-couldn’t-care-less-about-heritage-or tradition’ Bettman (when can we get someone who actually cares about the sport AND the Bucks?) was the guy to do away with them, I can’t see them coming back. Instead, I am quaking in my boots with the fear that Vladdy Mondavi’s prediction will ring true – God save us – please someone tell me that won’t happen!

      I still have my fingers crossed that Phoenix will fold soon, but it seems by bringing the Habs etc. regularly down to Florida, those two teams may last down there now. On the plus side, a bit of sun won’t hurt les gars, and as is much said, it’s a home crowd.

      For what it’s worth (because luckily it’s not up to me to make this league work financially!), I’d have preferred to have seen:

      ADAMS – Montreal, Boston, Ottawa, Toronto, Buffalo, Detroit, Colombus; PATRICK – Rangers, Islanders, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington, Carolina; SMYTHE – Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Minnesota, Winnipeg, Chicago, Colorado; NORRIS – San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix, Dallas, Tampa, Florida, Nashville.

  6. Timo says:

    Can’t wait to see more games against the Floridas. SHould be great.

  7. caladin says:

    I would prefer to see the second round remain inside the conference, and then have the 4 conference champs duke it out.
    The 20 team playoff idea that Elliot discussed would work like this: the first three teams in each conference get a by week. Team 4 and 5 play a best of three series for the fourth playoff spot.
    I see why they would want to do it, it would put us back to the days when it was fairly easy to get into the playoffs. My problem with it is makes the regular season a lot less important.
    In any case it seems to me that the seven team conference are actually the tougher ones ATM. If Phoenix did move to Quebec we could be in a really tough conference long term.

  8. NL_habs_fan says:

    Something every fan would like to see is the possibilty that any one team can meet any other team in the SCF. I think they can make this happen, but it could involve some heavy travel under the right/wrong circumstances.

    First round is within each conference 1 vs 4, 2 vs 3

    Second round juggle the remaining teams based on regular season rankings/standings 1 v 8, 2 v 7, 3 v 6, 4 v 5.

    Third round is basically played the same has the second round is now.

    SCF is the remaining two teams.

    This way it is possible to have Habs vs Leafs, Habs vs Bruins, Pens vs Philly, Chicago vs Detroit, etc. in the SCF.

    biggest problem with this is a team like the Habs could end up playing SJ in the second round then Vancouver in the 3rd, and then Dallas in the SCF, brutal travel. but this could be somewhat remedied by going to a 2-3-2 series format.

  9. caladin says:

    So which four teams voted against? Detroit and Columbus probably but who else?

  10. Vladdy Mondavi says:

    I don’t think the conferences will be named solely after players. In fact, I think they’ll be named more after builders/coaches. A la Burns, Johnston, Bowman, and, uh,… Melrose?

    On second thought, maybe they should go after kid’s toys like my Novice playing days… Autobots, Gobots, Deceptacons, and, uh, … Gem and the Holograms?

    Okay, let’s try one final thought, perhaps the NHL can get extra revenue by selling the naming rights to the conferences:
    – Pepsi Conference
    – Tim Horton’s Conference
    – Ford Conference
    – So-to-be Defunct Airlines Conference

    Opinions are like kittens, I’m giving them away.

    • Sakukoivumc11 says:

      Maybe we can re-name the divisions……now get ready for this….

      Division 1
      Division 2
      Division 3
      Division 4

      Now this would sell the game in the states as they would think it was College Football or College Basketball and than we can have a June Madness tournament where the winning team cuts the mesh off the nets ? If you do this they will come…….wake up, wake up……wow what a bad dream ! I dreamt I was Bettman !!

      Paolo Merenda

  11. DorvalTony says:

    Detroit fans must be puking. But then again they could get 110-120 points in that “division.”

    “The fish is rotten from the head.”

  12. Marc10 says:

    I think we’re in for a major disappointment with the naming of the conferences…

    It would make sense to name them after some of the greatest players, but leave it to Bettman to screw that up.


    Kinda makes sense. A bit of old, a bit of new. Even though he’s a Bruin, I can’t hate on Bobby.

    Mr Beliveau will always be the classiest guy ever to lace skates and all time great to boot…

  13. HabinBurlington says:

    I am not against the proposed new alignment speifically, but evidently nothing about the NHL is sacred to Bettman. This guy I think would change the league to playing on concrete with players in rollerblades if he thought it would sell hockey in the US. (If it would save Phoenix, he would make the change effective in this years playoffs)

  14. Jacksonator says:

    How’s this for conference names
    The Lemieux conference
    The Believeau conference
    The Howe conference
    The Gretzky conference

    It’s a way to honor some of the recent greats without having to create new awards in their names.

    • cuzzie says:

      That’s exactly what I twitted yesterday.

      Mr. Bad Example!

    • HabinBurlington says:

      I think Ed Snider may prefer the Clarke conference or perhaps Schultz, he seems to have more pull than Mario. Given Mario is still an ative owner in league, I can’t see them giving his conference his name.

    • Habfan10912 says:

      I like it!!!

      In photo from left to right. Chrisadiens, my Grandson, and me.

    • habs-hampton says:

      How about the Atlantic, East, Mid-West, West (or Pacific).

      I could never remember who was in the the Smythe, Patrick, etc. I like geographic names.

      Time’s up, JM must go!

    • The Cat says:

      I dont think its such a hot idea. Imagine the complaining from the camps who feel Orr (or anyone else worthy) should be there. Trophies named in honour of those players is enough IMO.

      [Disclaimer]: I’m a hockey fan. I care about the habs, but probably not as much as you.

  15. Pretty sweet that 4 our of only 7 make the playoffs in the Habs division…

    Saying that made me sad.


  16. G-Man says:

    Last I looked, Detroit is in the Eastern Time Zone. So much for the bobbleheads in the NHL front office.

  17. Everlasting1 says:

    The new format may appear more beneficial geographically, but for the most part, it’s designed to increase revenues and support the low market franchises (thru tix sales, network tv coverage) by matching them up with the more financially stable franchises on a more frequent basis. It’s all about the bottom line. Obviously.

    “For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the Gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD.” Exodus 12:12

    “We don’t see things as they are, but as we are.” – Anais Nin

  18. HabFanSince72 says:

    So I see JM derangement syndrome was in full force yesterday.

    What is amusing is that the person who froths while typing:

    “Leblanc on the 4th line! JM is a moron KILL HIM!”

    is the same person who thinks the Habs’ coaching job is impossible because of the “crazy French media”.

    • Da Hema says:

      What can you do, HabFan? It is an open forum. You have to dig really deep to find the precious gems. But it is safe to assume that poster isn’t a member of the Mensa Canada Society.

  19. Da Hema says:

    Who wouldn’t be exhilarated and, indeed, titillated by the prospect of watching the Habs play more games with the Florida Panthers? I am as giddy as a school girl.

  20. HabFanSince72 says:

    The biggest drawback is seeing the same teams all the time, as is the case now. A more balanced schedule would be nicer for the fan.

    On the other hand we just have to be better than three of Florida, Tampa, Ottawa, Buffalo and Toronto to make the playoffs.

    Sounds do-able.

    Of course it would be preferable to have a few more non-cap teams like Carolina and Nashville.

  21. AceMagnum says:

    It’s a little like the good old days again.


    Like back in 93…….. 🙂

    “Horton Hears a Boo”
    -Mike Boone April 2011

  22. Feraco says:

    Greatest post ever – “Are we watching TSN together.”

    Haha Yes

  23. Feraco says:

    I don’t like the Bruins any more than anyone else but they layed a beat down on Pits and crosby.

  24. Habsolutely says:

    Looking forward to all the whiners crying about the realignment. Some people just love to complain to make their lives seem worthwhile.


    I really hope they call the 4 conferences after the top 4 nhl players ever…


    no hab, but we do get lemieux

    • jmsheehy19 says:

      Exactly what I suggested in another topic. With Beliveau or Orr for ours, and Howe or Hull for the new central. Gretzky and Lemieux would be without debate.


        the playoff re-seeding is interesting… but I really would like to see mtl – boston in the cup final..


        what they can also do to use all the players you mentioned, is group the 2 conferences together, I dont know call them conglomerate lol (east and west), so GRTZKY 9 would be conferences (beliveau howe)and the other conglomerate LEMIEUX would have the other 2 conferences( hull orr)

        I think i wrote that clearly,
        I just dont know what goes abover confernece lol

        division. conference. ____ league


        the nhl could make up a name if they wanted and have other leagues follow???

    • HabFanSince72 says:

      Sorry, but there has to be a Montreal Canadien in that list.

    • Everlasting1 says:

      Lemieux? How about M.Richard?

      “For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the Gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD.” Exodus 12:12

      “We don’t see things as they are, but as we are.” – Anais Nin

  26. Laramy87 says:

    So does the home and home series mean like a Thursday nite game at home and a sat nite on the road against the same thing type thing? Cause that would result in ridicolous transportation if habs had to travel to LA for like one game then back home.

    Or does it mean just a home game and away game against the a non-conference team at various points in the year?

  27. kakey says:

    I see that the over-excitement, or shall I say over-disappointment of seeing Hunter and Muller as new head coaches of teams that are not the Habs died down pretty fast after both the Caps and Canes not having some initial success. What about Boucher, whose Lightning is 13th in the east? Haven’t hear anyone moaning his departure lately.

    How about letting them hone their craft elsewhere as rookies before recruiting these fine candidates?

  28. hansolo says:

    So, I watched the Ottawa-TB game. Some comments:

    Either TB is not a good team or Ottawa is better than we give them credit for. It must be the latter because no team with Guy Boucher as coach, and Stamkos, Vinny L. and Marty St. L. as their premier forwards (not to mention MAB at the point on the PP) could suck, could it?

    I sought out Corsi and Fenwick stats but couldn’t find them on timeonice.com (the game number nhl.com used gave me stats for the ‘Yotes-Hawks game).

    Anyway, Erik Karlsson would never survive in Montreal. The fanbase would automatically dismiss him because he’s not physical and “too small” (he’s “only 5’ 11″” and weighs 175 lbs). The hockey writers would dismiss him because he rushes around too much. He had a brutal giveaway when Stamkos stripped him of the puck and passed to St. Louis for a goal. That would get him stapled to the bench in Montreal and burnt in effigy on L’Antichambre. Even though he’s only -2 (not bad on that Ottawa team), he wouldn’t be considered defensively responsible enough.

    I thought it might be nice to mention this in light of all the comments earlier this evening about Yannick Weber (who’s heavier than Karlsson) and has a much greater weight of expectations on him.

    Karlsson has 23 points in 27 games. Not too shabby. Perhaps we ought to cut Yannick Weber some slack? And while we’re at it, PK as well? Perhaps when we “trade away all these players who become stars somewhere else”, we fans might also be at fault, and not just the triumvirate of BG, PG and JM?

  29. sevenman says:

    Looks like this has a little something to do with the playoffs and ensuring none of the western based teams will play another team in the playoffs more than an hour out of their time zone. Detroit last year had Phoenix and San Jose in there first two rounds which didn’t go over well with local fans.

    Don’t mind it, but the Fla and TB thing is kinda strange.

    • Habsolutely says:

      actually no, it’s not strange. both Florida teams are in the eastern time zone, so it makes perfect sense. not that facts matter to the crybabies.

  30. Say Ash says:

    Is it public, the teams that voted against? Any speculation?

  31. Un Canadien errant says:

    It’s confirmed that Derek Boogaard had CTE.


    How about it NHL? No fighting, just hockey?


    • Un Canadien errant says:


      The centre’s peer-reviewed findings of CTE have been widely accepted by experts in the field. The National Football League, initially dismissive, has since donated money to help underwrite the research.


      “There isn’t a lot of data, and the experts who we talked to, who consult with us, think that it’s way premature to be drawing any conclusions at this point,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “Because we’re not sure that any, based on the data we have available, is valid.”

      The researchers at Boston University say that the NHL was not taking the research seriously.

      How surprising that the NHL would be recalcitrant and obscurantist, and a few steps behind the NFL on another issue.

      How about it NHL? No fighting, just hockey?


    • wall2bay says:

      Nothing is confirmed till we get the final stamp this Saturday night on HNIC on Coach’s Corner!

      “I kind of feel sorry for players who never got a chance to be a Montreal Canadien” – Cammalleri

  32. Un Canadien errant says:

    A good article by Sean Gordon of the Globe and Mail on the Jordin Tootoo charge on Ryan Miller, and how it stems from the devolved mentality championed by Don Cherry, Brian Burke, Mike Milbury, and PJ Stock, among others, that players should police themselves, instead of the league having a responsibility to provide a safe working environment, and to foster a game that is exciting to watch instead of thuggery and defensive systems that regress the stars to the mean.


    How about it NHL? No fighting, just hockey?


    • kakey says:

      I think someone said on that article’s comment (I’m paraphrasing): “If Lucic was suspended even for only 1 game, that Tootoo hit, or the Sabres’ need to have that ensuing brawl, would’ve never happened.”

      • Un Canadien errant says:

        Brendan Shanahan made an absolute mess of that ruling, and now he has to clean it up, and he’ll get some of that mess on him.

        Another case the Campbell-Shanahan administration messed up was the hit on Mason Raymond by Johnny Boychuk of, seeprise seeprise, the Bruins. He’s just back this season from an injury he suffered last playoffs, on a hit when he was nowhere near the puck. The Bruins bellyache about the Aaron Rome hit on Nathan Horton, which was a split-second late, but never bring up their hit on Raymond, which was easily more late, and had more long-lasting effects.

        How about it NHL? No fighting, just hockey?


  33. SeriousFan09 says:

    We may escape this yet folks, NHLPA has to approve all realignments.

    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu. Habs and Hockey.
    SF09 on Twitter

  34. Frank2468 says:

    Come on people time to do your part in the All Star voting I did. If things stay the way they are the starting lineup could have 3 leafs and that would make the hockey world hurl. As it stand now your have for forwards Kessel in first and Lupul in sixth. For defense you have Phaneuf second and for goalie you have Thomas and Flury as 1 and 2 and Reimer a close third. If voting ended tomorrow you would have in your starting lineup Toronto, Ottawa and Boston, god hope I can hold my dinner down?

    Time to help out Pk and Carey. Obviously Leaf fans are stuffing the ballot box, lets not let them win by stuffing as we all know Leafs are good at stuffing things.

    • I’ll pass on sending them to the AS game. If they had the numbers to back it up I’d vote but they are just good this year, not Great.

      I guess Price could go, but PK is killing this team right now, doesn’t deserve to sniff the AS player’s socks let alone go. (ok that’s harsh)

      Shane Oliver
      Brandon, MB,Canada
      R7B 2R7
      Ph- 204 724 8418

      • Frank2468 says:

        I understand sholi2000, but I see you live Manitoba and you don’t have to listen to Leaf fans as I do. Living in Ontario you can’t believe all the cra* that’s being said here it’s annoying as hell. They are calling Carey a bum and so much for the Habs Saviour and their goalie Reimer was out with a concussion and is still beating Carey in votes. And omg they call Reimer Optimusreim it’s enough to make you toss your cookies. Just would love to shut them up if Carey gets the start and PK is there instead of the Phaneuf. Actually it won’t shut them up but instead of bragging and cat calling our players they will change their tune to one of complaining and thats how I like a Leaf fan, it just puts the universe in order.

    • Clay says:

      Carey, sure, because he’s at least played well enough to warrant consideration this season (maybe third string?).
      But PK? No, sorry…he has had a very average season. It’s called the “All Star Game”, not the “Let’s Vote In Our Favourite Players Game”

      “Talent is a gift from God, but you only succeed with hard work. Yvan was proof of that.” – Jean Beliveau.

      • Frank2468 says:

        Clay I know it may be right about PK but I love to upset Leaf fans. Normally I wouldn’t vote for someone thats not deserving of a vote, but man o man these Leaf fans are just to much. It would just make me smile like a Cheshire cat to watch them get all upset and chase their tails like a dog whining and pining and complaining. Leaf fans have a way of bringing out the evil side of me. LOL

    • G-Man says:

      PK and Carey are not All-Stars this season. Besides, I’d rather they get the time off.

  35. Malreg says:

    I have mixed feelings about this…

    It’ll be nice to play teams like Chicago, Detroit, San Jose, Vancouver twice a year, but at the same time it feels pretty stupid that we’re only going to be playing twice against Pittsburgh, Washington, Philly, and the Rangers.

    Chicago and Detroit get a pretty squishy division with Columbus, Minnesota(once they come back to earth), St-Louis, Winnipeg…

    Even more odds that we face Boston in the playoffs now. While the series is always fun, it would be fun to play against someone else for once lol.

    • 24 Cups says:

      Look at it this way, right now we have to beat out seven other teams to make the playoffs. Next year we only have to get by three:-)

      • Stu Hackel says:

        Cups – I think you hit on the major unspoken point of Bettman’s plan. This gives more teams a chance to make a run at the post season. Essentially, teams now must compete against 14 other clubs for playoff spots — within the Conferences and if you fall behind early, you’re done. The divisions now are cosmetic; they only matter for top seeding.

        The new plan spreads it out by having teams compete against only six or seven other teams for a spot, making each team’s chances appear greater.

  36. Duracell3 says:

    Can’t wait for a LA vs. QC Semi-final~

  37. Say Ash says:

    Gonna move Phoenix to QC – make 15 aside? or…
    Add two expansion teams to the east (barf)?

  38. Laughable conference. So TB and Flr get the Habs, Bruins, and Leafs to save their butts in the stands. Nice work GMs, you must have went to the same school as Shanahan.

    Shane Oliver
    Brandon, MB,Canada
    R7B 2R7
    Ph- 204 724 8418

  39. bigjames says:

    at first i thought it was strange having the florida teams in the habs conference but in fact it does make sense. actually it gives the habs more home style games (from the perspective of fan support, which could be more important than last line change etc.). i really hope they bring back the old division names!
    GO HABS!

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