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NHL Realignment: League To Move To 4 Divisions?

Even before the Atlanta Thrashers became the Winnipeg Jets, NHL realignment was a hot topic. Now that we know realignment will happen before the 2012-13 season, the debate is raging on about how the NHL should go about configuring its divisions.

As first reported by the Ottawa Sun last week, it looks like the NHL may scrap its current divisions and come up with a new setup. Originally the belief was Winnipeg would simply move to the Western Conference and a team from the West would move to the East, but as it turns out Gary Bettman may have something different in mind.

Sources say under Bettman’s proposal, the league will have four divisions: Pacific, Midwest, East and South. It’s believed the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets would both get their wish to move to the East conference.

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With 30 teams, one division in each conference will have eight squads while the other will have seven. Under the current format — two conferences and six divisions — division winners and the top five teams make the playoffs.

Under the new setup, the top four teams in each division would make the playoffs and square off against each other in the first round. In the second round the teams would be reseeded for conference play.

Obviously a lot of discussions need to take place before any NHL realignment happens, but an NHL executive told Yahoo! Sports at the draft that it is a "guarantee" that dramatic change is coming.