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The NHL Is Realigning to Form Four Conferences As Early As Next Season

NHL Game
Joel Auerbach, Getty Images

The NHL is realigning its conferences. Six divisions could turn into four conferences as early as next season, if the NHL Players’ Association approves, commissioner Gary Bettman said.

Teams will be divided up by four conferences based on geography, two with eight teams and two with seven.

“This is not a subject that everybody is going to get their first choice on,” Bettman said. “What you try to do is come up with something that everybody can live with, get comfortable with and understands the value of. Because if you ask 30 clubs, you’d probably get 30 different solutions. That’s what makes this a difficult process.”

The new plan has both supporters and opponents around the league. When Atlanta relocated to Winnipeg this off-season, it forced Bettman to reassess the layout of the league. And the league insists that it had everyone’s best intentions in mind, including keeping current rivalries intact.

“I think there were more than two or three teams not happy with the current situation,” Columbus general manager Scott Howson said. “This was a compromise that really satisfies everybody to a large extent.”


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