The Blackhawks didnt have a huge stake in the NHLs realignment. Nevertheless, with the leagues Board of Governors vote on Monday night, the Blackhawks will keep their biggest rival in their conference.
The board approved a four-conference alignment format that keeps the Detroit Red Wings in the same group as the Blackhawks. The board authorized Commissioner Gary Bettman to implement the new setup, pending NHLPA input.
The Blackhawks new conference includes them, the Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg Jets.
Additionally, under the new format every team would play every other team outside of its conference twice once home and once away. That means the Blackhawks will host every team every season instead of every other season, as is the current setup.
That last item was a needed change. Too many seasons big stars werent playing in every building, denying fans a chance to see them. And for Blackhawks fans, that Red Wings matchup remains five or six times a season (an eight-team conference member that plays an opponent six times one season would play it five times the next season).
Oh, and heres the deal with playoffs: the top four teams in each conference qualify, with first place facing fourth and second playing against third. The four respective conference champs would meet in the third round of the playoffs.
Of all the teams in the Blackhawks conference, the Stars are probably the happiest travel-wise. The Stars have long been a member of the Pacific Division, traveling outside of their time zone one or two hours for every other division opponent.
And, of course, Winnipeg will get to see favorite son, Jonathan Toews, three times a year. Not a bad setup.