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Monday, December 5, 2011
Stars realigned under league's new plan

By Mark Stepneski

The Dallas Stars got their wish on realignment. They are out of the Pacific Division. In fact, there will be no more Pacific Division. The NHL Board of Governors Monday night approved a realignment plan that will replace the current two conference/six division format with a four conference configuration. Two conferences will have eight teams and two will have seven.

"We are really excited about it," said Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk. "Everyone knew our position on this. We wanted out of the Pacific Division. This makes total sense for us."

The Stars will play in a conference with Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg.

The new alignment will mean less travel for the Stars and fewer late starts to games, which will help on the television side of things. Those were two key issues for the Stars.

The new format would include a more balanced schedule with every team playing every other team at least once in a home-and-home series.

The top four teams in each conference will make the playoffs and the first two rounds of the playoffs will be held within each conference. The rest of the playoff format will be worked out this spring.

The plan is expected to be in place next season.

How the Stars schedule will look

Since the Stars are playing in an eight-team conference, this is how their schedule will break down each season.

They will play 38 games within the conference. They will play three of their division rivals six times (18 games) and four of their division rivals five times (20 games). Which teams they play six times and five times will rotate season to season.

They will play 44 games against teams in the other three conferences. They will play two games each – one home, one away – against the other 22 teams (44 games).