Gary Bettman says NHL to adopt four-conference alignment


View Photo Gallery: The NHL approved a conference realignment plan that would reunite the Washington Capitals with former Patrick Division rivals Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New Jersey, the New York Rangers and the New York Islanders.

UPDATED, 10:58 p.m.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced Monday night that the board of governors have voted to adopt a four-conference alignment beginning next year.

Two conferences will have eight teams and the other two will have seven.

The Capitals will play in a conference — there are no divisions — that includes Carolina, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New Jersey and the New York Rangers and Islanders. Clubs in the seven-team conferences will play each other six times, three times at home and three times on the road.

Under the format, each team will also face every other team outside of its conference twice, once at home and once on the road.

Four teams from each conference qualify for the playoffs, with the first-place team playing the fourth-place team and second playing third. The four conference champions would meet in the third round of the playoffs, and winners play for the Stanley Cup.

Realignment was necessary because of Atlanta’s move to Winnipeg.

I’ll have player reaction from the Capitals tonight (hopefully) and more tomorrow, of course.

The full breakdown is after the jump:

* New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Washington and Carolina

* Boston, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Buffalo, Florida and Tampa Bay

* Detroit, Columbus, Nashville, St. Louis, Chicago, Minnesota, Dallas and Winnipeg

* Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Colorado

More from Washington Post Sports:

Capitals Insider: Capitals react to NHL realignment

Gallery: Meet Washington’s proposed conference rivals

Your take: What do you think of the new playoff format?

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