Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Leipold gets his wish: Wild out of the Northwest

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild news Updated: December 5, 2011 - 9:16 PM

Updated with quotes:

Wild owner Craig Leipold got his wish: The Wild will no longer be in the Northwest Division.

In Pebble Beach, the NHL Board of Governors approved a radical realignment tonight, moving from six divisions of five teams each to four "conferences" of seven or eight teams each.

The Wild's conference will include Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg.

The other conferences: Anaheim, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, L.A., Phoenix, San Jose and Vancouver.

Carolina, New Jersey, N.Y. Islanders, N.Y. Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington

Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Toronto

"I think it's going to be a good division," Dany Heatley told the Star Tribune. "Obviously travel is a lot better for us. There are some real good teams in this division and it's going to be very competitive. We lose some big rivalries out west, but there will be new ones coming."

“It’s hard to say whether or not it helps us,” Wild center Matt Cullen told the Star Tribune. “I’m sure every team in the league is evaluating that right now. It’s a big change for everyone. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.”


Under the format, every team would play every other team outside its conference twice -- once home, once away.

In the seven-team Conferences, teams would play six times -- three home, three away. In the eight-team Conferences, teams would play either five or six times in a season on a rotating basis; three teams would play each other six times and four teams would play each other five times. This process would reverse each season: An eight-team Conference member that plays an opponent six times in one season would play it five times the following season.

The top four teams in each Conference qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The first-place team would play the fourth-place team; the second-place team would play the third-place team. The four respective Conference champions would meet in the third round of the Playoffs, with the survivors playing for the Stanley Cup.

 

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