Bruins Shouldn't Notice Too Many Changes From Realignment, Right?

With the Winnipeg Jets officially in the NHL and the Draft concluded, focus has shifted towards realigning the NHL's divisions for the 2011-2012 season. Winnipeg will stay in the Southeast for the upcoming season, but geography dictates that changes must be made in the near future.

The Red Wings and Blue Jackets would like to move East. Detroit and Columbus are  in the Eastern Time Zone. Playing most of their road games out in the Central, Mountain, and Pacific Time Zones hurts their television ratings and forces them to travel more than they would like. The Predators might also be a candidate to move East, even though Nashville is in the Central Time Zone. Nashville is close enough to the cities in the current Southeast Division (besides Winnipeg, of course) for a possible move.

According to a report in the Ottawa Sun, the NHL is looking to go back to four divisions, with an eight-team and seven-team division in each conference. How might this affect the Bruins?

According to the Sun, the divisions would be the East and South in the Eastern Conference, and the Pacific and Midwest in the Western Conference. With the abundance of teams in the Eastern U.S., it's a possibility that the NHL might go with a 16-team East and a 14-team West. Which would, of course, be a convenient excuse for more expansion (hello, Seattle and Portland!).

While having Detroit in the Eastern Division and/or Conference would be great for NBC, it wouldn't be so good for the Bruins (or Blackhawks fans). The Wings are always a contender, and manhandled the Bruins in back-to-back games this year.

It's unlikely that the Bruins will be separated from any current division foes - so while watching them join the Flyers, Penguins and Capitals might be better for ratings and entertainment value - but likely that they would play a more balanced schedule.

Also, the playoffs would start with a divisional round as they used to (first in the division plays fourth, second plays third; winners play for the right to advance to the conference finals), so here's to more chances to eliminate the Habs. But don't expect the old division names to return.

So what can the Bruins expect from realignment? A larger division, with mostly the same foes, intense divisional playoff rounds, a more balanced schedule, and possibly the addition of Detroit to the conference could come out of it. Nothing is finalized, but right now that is what the NHL is expected to look like for the 2012-2013 season and beyond.

Of course it's all still up in the air. If you had it your way, what would the NHL do? And which seven Eastern Conference schlubs would you most prefer to see them beating up on?

And moreover, is there a more enjoyable photo of Carey Price than the one above?

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