As reported by TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the NHL Players Association has signed off on the proposed NHL realignment plan:
“After discussions with Executive Board, NHLPA has given consent to realignment, to be re-evaluated following 2014-15 season.” – Fehr
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 7, 2013
The proposed plan had the teams divided up like so:
|Atlantic Division||Central Division||Midwest Division||Pacific Division|
|Carolina Hurricanes||Boston Bruins||Chicago Blackhawks||Anaheim Ducks|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||Buffalo Sabres||Colorado Avalanche||Calgary Flames|
|New Jersey Devils||Detroit Red Wings||Dallas Stars||Edmonton Oilers|
|New York Islanders||Florida Panthers||Minnesota Wild||Los Angeles Kings|
|New York Rangers||Montreal Canadiens||Nashville Predators||Phoenix Coyotes|
|Philadelphia Flyers||Ottawa Senators||St. Louis Blues||San Jose Sharks|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||Tampa Bay Lightning||Winnipeg Jets||Vancouver Canucks|
|Washington Capitals||Toronto Maple Leafs|
The approval of the NHL realignment plan marks the end of an era for the Nashville Predators, who have played in the NHL Central Division since their inception. The team’s rivalry with the Detroit Red Wings will be reduced to an annual home-and-home series, which will disappoint a lot of fans. The Columbus Blue Jackets will also move east, taking away four games annually against what has historically been the easiest team in the league for the Nashville Predators to defeat.
As of the 2013-14 season, the Preds will be members of the NHL Midwest Division. The Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues will join them in the new division. The new blood will come in the form of the Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, and Winnipeg Jets. The benefit seems obvious in that Nashville projects to be better than most, if not all, of the new divisional opponents.
The downside of this NHL realignment is the travel. All four of those cities are at least 664 miles away from Nashville, with Winnipeg leading at a distance of 1,338 miles. Overall, though, the NHL realignment will only have Nashville traveling an extra 2,000 miles over the course of the season.