Reports: NHL to realign for 2012-13

ESPN.com news services
June 26, 2011


The return of the Winnipeg Jets to the NHL will create a ripple effect throughout the league with a dramatic realignment for the 2012-13 season as a result, multiple media outlets have reported.

Winnipeg, which is the new home of the relocated Atlanta Thrashers, will play the upcoming 2011-12 season in the Eastern Conference's Southeast Division despite being 70 miles north of Minnesota.

The Jets' division features the Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes.

With Western Conference teams Detroit, Nashville and Columbus hoping to be relocated to the East, the NHL has opted to realign the entire league rather than shifting Winnipeg, according to the Sporting News.

The purveying plan seeks to divide the league into four divisions -- two with eight teams and two with seven teams. The plan will likely be finalized at December's Board of Governors meeting.

Commissioner Gary Bettman hinted at changes to come in his annual state-of-the-NHL address before the Stanley Cup finals opener earlier this month.

"All those clubs need an opportunity to be heard," Bettman said. "That's a process we'll go through the first half of next season, looking at the issues that clubs want to raise, looking at various possibilities, and trying to figure out what will make the most sense moving forward."

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