Six divisions have now become four, as the NHL released the names of the new divisions, which will be in place starting from the 2013-14 season.
The Atlantic Division will consist of: Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Metropolitan Division will consist of: Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.
The Central Division will consist of: Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg Jets.
The Pacific Division will consist of: Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks.
The Atlantic and Metropolitan divisions will make up the Eastern Conference, whilst the Central and Pacific will be the Western Conference. Detroit and Columbus are moving to the East, and Winnipeg is moving West. The schedule makes sure that all 30 teams will play in all 30 arenas at least once in the regular season.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs will still be made up of 16 teams, but qualifying for the dance has been modified. The top three from each division will automatically qualify, and the final four spots will be made up of ‘wild card’ teams from both conferences, regardless of division, meaning it is possible for one division to send five teams, and the other only send three to the playoffs.
The playoff seedings will still be based on points earned in the regular season. The winner of the conference, who will be the division winner with the highest points, will face the wild-card team with the fewest points. Second in the conference, and the other division winner, will face the wild-card team with the second fewest points.
The four winners will advance on to play for a berth in the conference championship series, with the winner of the conference advancing to the Stanley Cup.