Canadiens Welcome Red Wings Under NHL Realignment

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MONTREAL, QC. — The NHL Board of Governors has approved a realignment plan that will see the league move to four division for next season. It is the same plan approved by the players last week. There will be two eight team divisions in the east and two seven team divisions in the west.
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The divisions are still waiting for their official names but for now are being referred to as A, B, C and D.

The Montreal Canadiens will welcome the Detroit Red Wings to their division bringing the total number of Original Six teams to four including the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs.  The other members of Division C are  Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Ottawa Senators.

The playoff format will be determined as follows:

The Stanley Cup Playoffs will still consist of 16 teams, eight in each conference, but it will be division-based and a wild-card system has been added as a new wrinkle.

The top three teams in each division will make-up the first 12 teams in the playoffs. The remaining four spots will be filled by the next two highest-placed finishers in each conference, based on regular-season points and regardless of division. It will be possible, then, for one division to send five teams to the postseason while the other sends three.

The seeding of the wild-card teams within each divisional playoff will be determined on the basis of regular-season points. The division winner with the most points in the conference will be matched against the wild-card team with the lowest number of points; the division winner with the second-most points in the conference will play the wild-card team with the second fewest points.

The teams finishing second and third in each division will play in the first round of the playoffs. The winners of each series will play for berths in the Conference Championship series.

The two divisional champions in each conference will then play in the conference finals to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

All teams will play one another at least home and away. The league and players will re-evaluate the plan after the 2015-16 season as requested by the NHLPA.

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