On Monday, the NHL Board of Governors will begin discussing a realignment plan that will result in the leagues first dramatic schedule change since 1998-99 when the Toronto Maple Leafs moved from the Western Conference to the East.
The most recent proposal seems to be gaining the most steam among the teams 30 owners, who will need a two-thirds majority (20 of 30 votes) for the changes to take effect next season.
Seen below, the four-division format would move the Winnipeg Jets (nee Thrashers) from the East to the West, creating an imbalanced league, with 14 teams in the East and 16 in the West.
Here's what the new conferences would look like
NY Rangers Boston
NY Islanders Buffalo
New Jersey Tampa Bay
Los Angeles Detroit
San Jose St. Louis
Heres how the realignment would affect scheduling: Teams in each division would face each other six times (three home, three road), and face teams in the other three divisions twice each (one home, one road).
Teams in the overloaded Western Conference would need to tweak their outside-division schedules, reducing two of their outside-division meetings to one game.
The playoff format would also be altered, with the top seed in each division facing the fourth seed in the same division. That means the first two rounds of the playoffs would be played inside the division, followed by a conference final and Stanley Cup final.
So how would the proposed realignment affect the Capitals? For one, they would rekindle their old Patrick Division rivalries with the Penguins and Flyers, facing them six times a season instead of four.
The proposed realignment would also significantly cut their travel costs, reducing flights to Tampa and Miami from three to one.
The two teams in the East who would travel most would be the Lightning and Panthers, who have no geographical ties to Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Boston or Buffalo. On the flip side, fans from all five of those northern cities flock to southern Florida in the winter and that could boost the sagging attendance in both markets.
Of course, the realignment would not completely appease the Detroit Red Wings, who have asked to be moved to the East or be given a more balanced schedule in which it faces the teams out of its division twice a year.
Your thoughts? If given a vote, which teams would you like to see in the Caps division next season?