Minnesota Wild and Realignment

Calm down, Butch. It starts next year. Next year.

When the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg, it instantly became necessary for the NHL to realign. It makes no sense for the Jets to play in the Southeast division. The plans that were thrown about included everything from plans that made sense (getting the Wild out of Canada) to the idiotic (swapping Detroit and Winnipeg).

Tonight, the plan was formalized and accepted by the NHL Board of Governors. It will take some getting used to, but it really the best option for the league. The fact that it is good for the bulk of the league is amazing, since the NHL is not always known for doing what is best for anyone west of Pittsburgh.

Where will the Wild be? Who will they play? After the jump.

The New Conference

Apparently, we are calling them conferences now, not divisions, so here is who you will see the most:

"Central" Conference: Minnesota, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators, Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues, Winnipeg Jets.

It could be very beneficial to the Wild that for the first time in their history, they have a solid crop of prospects coming up through the system. Being in with teams like the Hawks and the Wings will certainly not make winning easier, but hopefully the Wild can turn into contenders even with those powerhouses so close.

Adding in mostly central timezone teams makes things so much easier on not only the Wild, but their fans, it is incredibly difficult to put it all into words. Imagine how few games you will have to stay up until midnight to watch, now. Road games against rivals will be within driving distance, and most won't involve a passport and customs checks.

Rivalries against old friends in St. Louis, Chicago, and Detroit? Priceless. Welcome back to the Norris Division, ladies and gentlemen.

For the curious amongst you, the rest of the plan shakes out like this:

"West" Conference: Anaheim, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, L.A., Phoenix, San Jose and Vancouver.

East Conference: Carolina, New Jersey, N.Y. Islanders, N.Y. Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington

The um... other East Conference: Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Toronto

There will be six games against each conference opponent, 3 each and home and away. In what was the West, there will be five or six games against each, with a rotating schedule to determine who plays who how many times.

Every team in the league will play a home and home against everyone else. That means you can be excited to see the only player in the league that matters once every single year. How exciting.

Sixteen teams make the playoffs, as they do now. The top four teams in each conference make it in. The first round is within the conference, seeded as normal. The two winners face off for a "conference championship." The third round has the conferences champs then playing each other. That round, according to Bob McKenzie, is then seeded 1-4.

In other words, the Stanley Cup is no longer an East-West affair. It could certainly be a Chicago - Wild final. Strike that. No it couldn't. But it could be a Wild - Canucks final.

How in the hell did they get that past Gary Bettman? Oh... right... it could also be Pittsburgh vs Washington.

Your thoughts, WIlderness? Let's hear it. Angry? Happy? Reluctant to comment?

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