Bobby Ryan is looking forward to playing more games within the same time zone. Dan Ellis is glad to see that the game's superstars will play in every NHL city. And Bruce Boudreau believes that more rivalries will be built.
The Ducks are full steam ahead with realignment.
As part of the NHL's new plan, passed with a majority vote at the Board of Governors' meeting Monday, the Ducks will be in a new eight-team conference that'll include Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.
Current Pacific Division foes San Jose, Phoenix and Kings will join the Ducks and Colorado, which will move over from its odd placement in the Northwest Division. The Ducks will play some of them six times and others five.
"I think they put some real work into this," said Boudreau, the Ducks' coach. "And on paper, it looks really good. I think it'll create rivalries. And it makes it an awful lot easier for the teams in the west to play, staying in the same time zone.
"Same thing with the central and eastern teams. It's going to be really tough to make the playoffs but ... it's not a walk in the park. This is what sports is all about. I think they did a great job."
The new setup will have the Ducks play home-and-home contests with the remaining 23 non-conference teams. The allure of having stars such as Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin come in every season instead of every other year is a reason why the plan was approved.
There are some drawbacks. For example, the Ducks will be home against teams like Detroit and Chicago only once instead of the two visits those teams usually made. But the Ducks should be helped at the box office as teams with a big fan following such as Toronto, Montreal and the New York Rangers will make annual visits.
"I think the fans are able to see certain teams a little bit more often and see certain players," Ellis said. "That's great for the league."
But the new conference setup will also have the Ducks playing 36 games in the Pacific or Mountain time zones. Ryan said he believes that the Ducks will have less wear and tear over the long haul.
"I think it cuts down on the travel," he said. "I'm definitely in support of that. We're obviously a team that, aside from these two quick little trips, has some tough, challenging road trips.
"I'm all for it. I think it'll be interesting."
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