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Tue Feb 26, 2013, 06:52 PM

NHL realignment proposal adds playoff wild cards, drops league to 4 divisions

The new plan calls for divisional playoffs, not conference playoffs as the NHL currently has. The division winner with the most regular-season points will play the lowest-seeded wild-card team in the first round, with the other division winner playing the other wild-card team.

The plan still needs approval from the NHL Players' Association plus the NHL's Board of Governors. The NHLPA and NHL have been working on these changes for the past three weeks.

If approved by all parties, the plan would go into effect for next season.
<snip>

The playoff format as detailed in the league memo Tuesday calls for the top three teams in each division to earn postseason berths. The remaining four spots would go to wild cards, the top two records in each conference. That means there's a possibility five teams make it from one division and only three from another.

Atlantic
Carolina
Columbus
New Jersey
NY Islanders
NY Rangers
Philadelphia
Pittsburgh
Washington

Central
Boston
Buffalo
Detroit
Florida
Montreal
Ottawa
Tampa Bay
Toronto

Mid-West
Chicago
Colorado
Dallas
Minnesota
Nashville
St. Louis
Winnipeg

Pacific
Anaheim
Calgary
Edmonton
Los Angeles
Phoenix
San Jose
Vancouver

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