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NHL Realignment Reportedly Likely In 2012-2013

The Sporting News reports that the NHL is likely to enact "dramatic" realignment plans before the 2012-2013 season. The realignment might decrease the number of divisions in the NHL from six to four, with 16 teams playing in the Eastern Conference and 14 teams in the Western Conference.

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Since the Atlanta Thrashers have become the Winnipeg Jets, they would move from the East to the West. Three teams, the Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators, would move from the West to the East.

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For the Penguins, much depends on the way divisions within the Eastern Conference are realigned, but I would have to think the organization would be happy about this. There would be the possibility of the Pens being in the same division with both the Red Wings and Blue Jackets, and they would have decent rivalries would both teams - the Red Wings because of their recent Stanley Cup matchups, and the Blue Jackets because of their geographical proximity.

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As the Sporting News report points out, moves to the Eastern Conference would be great for the Red Wings and Blue Jackets as well, in that their fans would get to see a lot more away games, which would no longer be played late at night. The report quotes Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson saying that the team is crafting a proposal to be moved to the East. Also, the Jets are currently in the Southeast Division with the Washington Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers, which makes no sense at all. The time appears to be ripe for realignment.

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For more on NHL realignment, check out SBNation.com's storystream.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.