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Saturday, March 2, 2013
Rangers aren't sweating realignment

By Matt Ehalt

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- As the NHL works with the players' association on a new realignment system, the Rangers aren't sweating much about the possible changes.

"For us here in New York, we don't really get affected much by the realignment," Rangers backup goalie Martin Biron said on Saturday.

While the proposed realignment could have drastic effects for certain teams, the Rangers don't expect it to make much of a difference for them moving forward. The main component of the proposal is going from a six-division league to having four divisions, two in each conference, with an unbalanced number of teams. The players' association and the Board of Governors would have to pass the proposal before it could be implemented, which could happen as early as next year.

"The league and the (players' association) is working really hard at trying to make it best for everybody: teams, fans, players, all of that," Biron said. "There's just no perfect scenario. There's always going to be somebody somewhere who thinks they have a better solution, but they are working real hard at it and trying to make sense of it."

Under the proposed plan, the Rangers would stay in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern conference, with Carolina, Columbus and Washington entering their division to join the current group of five. Rangers forward Brad Richards said the proposed changes not affecting the Rangers comes down to one main point: traveling.

"No matter what New York is always going to have good travel," Richards said.

Overall, Richards said there's some good and some bad to the proposal. He said losing some games against original six squads and games in Canada is a drawback, but he said the travel works out better for certain teams. Conversely, he acknowledged the travel can become worse for certain teams.

Richards said Dallas, his former team, currently has one of the worst traveling arrangements in the league, but would benefit from the shakeup. On the flip side, he believes Tampa Bay, another team he previously played for, would make out worse travel wise because the proposal places them in a division with three teams from Canada, as well as Buffalo.

"It's a big disadvantage when you're traveling triple and quadruple what other teams travel during the season," Richards said.

Another big contention point of the plan is the unbalanced number of teams in the league, as the Eastern Conference would have 16 squads and the Western Conference would just have 14. That makes it mathematically easier to be a playoff team in the Western Conference. The playoffs would also move from a conference format to a division format.

Richards didn't seem to think the unbalanced number of teams is a big deal.

"It might be a factor for some teams. Still got to win your games," Richards said. "And if that's the way it is, that's the way it is, you can't really complain about it."