Starting next season, the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks will be part of the same eight-team conference, one of four yet-unnamed conferences in the new realignment plan adopted by the NHL Board of Governors on Monday. The new four-conference alignment will replace the current six-division alignment beginning with the 2012-2013 season.
The Kings and Ducks will be in the same conference with current division mates the Phoenix Coyotes and San Jose Sharks, along with the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, and Colorado Avalanche. This is one of two eight-team divisions, with the other seven-team divisions in the east. As Dan Rosen said on NHL.com, "The four conferences are designed to alleviate geographic concerns among several current Western Conference teams that had been unhappy about their extensive travel through one, two, and sometimes even three time zones."
Under the new alignment, teams would play teams outside of their conference two times per year, one at home and one on the road, and play teams within their division either five or six times.
Where it can get unbalanced, or a tad unfair, is the playoff format. The top four teams from each conference will make the playoffs, and the first two rounds will consist of games against the same conference. It is easier for the teams in the east, in the seven-team conferences, to make the playoffs since they have one fewer team with which to contend.
For more news and information on the NHL and its radical realignment, be sure to read Jewels From The Crown and Anaheim Calling.