Nashville Predators fans will see red far less frequently in coming seasons.
The National Hockey League’s board of governors approved a plan for realignment on Thursday that places the Predators and one of their longtime rivals, the Detroit Red Wings, in separate conferences. The NHL Players' Association gave its approval a week earlier.
The plan, which also moves the Columbus Blue Jackets to a different conference, will begin with the 2013-14 season and will be subject to review after three seasons.
The Predators issued the following statement: “The Nashville Predators voted in support of the realignment plan. We believe this plan is in the best interests of our players, fans and the league. For our fans it means approximately 70 of our 82 regular season games will be played in the Eastern or Central time zone.
“Fans will also have the opportunity, as a result of the addition of home-and-home series with all Eastern Conference teams, to see every NHL team visit Bridgestone Arena each season.
“For our players, it reduces the travel to the Mountain and Pacific time zones and allows them to match up with every NHL team at least twice each season. Under this realignment, we retain our established rivalries with Chicago and St. Louis and look forward to creating new division rivalries with Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota and Winnipeg.”
Teams will be divided into two conferences of two yet-to-be named divisions each based primarily on geography. Seven teams will comprise the Western Conference divisions and eight will make up the Eastern Conference divisions.
The alignment is as follows:
Division B: Nashville, Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, St. Louis, Winnipeg.
Division A: Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver.
Division C: Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto.
Division D: Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington.
Western Conference teams will play five of the other six teams in their division five times per season. They will play the sixth team just four times. They also will play the seven teams from the other division three times each.
Every team will play two games (one home, one away) against every team from the other conference. That means the Red Wings will come to Bridgestone Arena once per season.
The top three finishers from each division plus the next two teams with the best records will qualify for the playoffs. That means eight of 14 Western Conference teams (57.1 percent) will make the postseason while eight of 16 Eastern Conference teams (50 percent) will qualify.