The Rangers now officially can say the league is screwing them. And so can every other team east of the Mississippi.
Thursday, the NHL Board of Governors approved the new realignment plan set to go into effect next season, one where the Rangers, Devils and Islanders are all in a 16-team Eastern Conference, while out West it’s just 14 teams battling for the same number of eight playoff spots.
“Not that realistic of a concern,” is how commissioner Gary Bettman described the issue on a conference call. “We introduced the wild card to balance that off a little bit better. In that regard, I think it addresses what might be a concern.”
With each conference now being reduced from three divisions to two, the top three teams in each division automatically will make the playoffs. After those six, the final two qualifiers — the “wild cards” — will get in and be seeded based on point totals alone, regardless of their division.
“On balance, if you look at the rivalries and geographic groupings,” Bettman said, “this appeared to make the most sense.”
The biggest change is that the Jets — whom the Rangers played last night at the MTS Centre — will move to the more geographically friendly Western Conference, while Columbus and Detroit move to the East. And it’s those Jets, who two seasons ago were the Atlanta Thrashers, which caused this whole process to begin.
“But for the relocation, this isn’t something we would have undertaken,” Bettman said.
It also was something that was not undertaken unanimously. Yet Bettman said once all 30 votes were counted, “It was well in excess of the three-quarters that is required.”
NHL govs OK unbalanced realignment plan
New York Post | Mar 15