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December 5, 2011 8:13 pm

NHL realignment approved; new conferences

The NHL’s Board of Governors has approved a realignment plan that will drastically alter the league’s landscape, both in the regular season and the playoffs. Here’s the link, and here’s how it impacts the Kings:

Instead of being part of a five-team league and a 15-team conference, the Kings will now be part of an eight-team conference, with Anaheim, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Phoenix, San Jose and Vancouver. The Kings will play a total of 38 games against those teams — five or six games against each team, on an annual rotating basis — then have a home-and-home series with each of the league’s other 22 teams. The first two rounds of the playoffs will now be within the conference, meaning that in the Kings’ conference, the top four teams will make the playoffs and will play among each other, 1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3, with the winners facing in a second-round conference championship. From there, the winners of the four conference mini-tournaments will make up a “final four” and will be seeded based on regular-season points.

Does this help the Kings, travel-wise? It seems to be a bit of a wash, comparing this season’s schedule to next season’s potential schedule. Here’s how the Kings’ road games break down, by time zone, this season:

Pacific: 10 games
Mountain: 7 games
Central: 12 games
Eastern: 12 games

And here is, potentially, how things might break down next season, depending on which conference teams the Kings play three times:

Pacific: 7 to 12 games
Mountain: 7 to 11 games
Central: 6 games
Eastern: 16 games

So, that’s more games in the East, but compensated by less travel to the Central and more to the Mountain. (Then again, two of those mountain teams, Calgary and Edmonton, are quite far away.) What do you think?

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