For the Eastern Conference – Atlantic and Central Divisions:
- 28 games vs. Western Conference (one home, one away)
- 24 games vs. the other Eastern Conference division
- 30 games vs. own division (vs. two teams five times, and four times against the other five teams)
For the Western Conference – Midwest and Pacific Divisions:
- 32 games vs. Eastern Conference (one home, one away vs. every team)
- 21 games vs. the other Western Conference division
- 29 games vs. own division (four games vs each team)
The top three teams in each division are automatic qualifiers for the postseason, and will be seeded 1, 2 and 3. However, the 4 seeds will be given to the next two teams with the highest point total in the conference (the club with fewer points would play the top overall seed in the conference).
The new plan would keep the playoffs inside each conference, and the Stanley Cup Final would remain between the champions of the East and West (as is the case today). Under the old plan, which featured four stand-alone conferences, there was potential for a cross-continent playoffs series (Vancouver vs. Florida). This keeps the games, for the most part, in the appropriate time zones and would, in theory, help build/retain most rivalries.
Of course, they don’t care that the Blackhawks are the only Original Six team in the Western Conference.
The league-wide memo also indicates the NHL and the NHLPA will meet after the 2015-16 season, at which time they will evaluate the success of the realignment. There is also room for a discussion “earlier [than 2016] if circumstances warrant.”
This plan still has to be agreed upon by the Board of Governors and the NHLPA, but could be in play for next season.