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How does the new NHL realignment impact teams’ travel?

The NHL's new four-conference realignment is going to dramatically impact travel. For example, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers are apparently now part of the Northeast …

From the NHL:

Under the format, every team would play every other team outside its conference twice -- once home, once away.

In the seven-team Conferences, teams would play six times — three home, three away. In the eight-team Conferences, teams would play either five or six times in a season on a rotating basis; three teams would play each other six times and four teams would play each other five times. This process would reverse each season: An eight-team Conference member that plays an opponent six times in one season would play it five times the following season.

This is good news for teams like the Detroit Red Wings and the Columbus Blue Jackets, who no longer have to make multiple trips to Western Canada and California in the regular season. This is less-than-good-news for Eastern Conference teams, who will have to make those road trips each season.

But it's not all bad news for the former Eastern teams. Dirk Hoag of On The Forecheck broke down the average travel distances for the four conferences' intra-conference games, and it breaks down like this:

How does the new NHL realignment impact teams’ travel?

Again, the Florida teams aren't getting any favors here. But hey, at least those division games in Winnipeg are done.

The playoffs will further help Western Conference teams currently adding up the miles in the first two rounds; consider that the West Coast teams could face each other every season without have to venture out to play the Central teams.

Check out Dirk's Super Schedule for 2011-12 NHL season for more travel news.

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