Players OK with league realignment

BOSTON -- If and when the NHL decides to officially implement its new realignment plan, Boston Bruins players are onboard with the proposed changes.

As ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun reported earlier this week, there would be two divisions in each conference, and the playoff format would change. The Eastern Conference would consist of the Atlantic and Central divisions while the Western Conference would have the Mid-West and Pacific divisions.

“I think it’ll work well,” said Bruins forward Milan Lucic. “I like that you play every team home and away. I think that’s fine and definitely in the right direction, where we should be going into every city and we should be playing every team at home. It’s definitely something they’ve put a lot of thought into and hopefully it works out.”

The plan still needs to be approved by the NHLPA and the NHL’s Board of Governors.

If it does pass, then the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets would become part of the Eastern Conference.

“Detroit’s probably happy to be coming on the east side,” Lucic said. “I’ve heard they’ve been trying to do that for a long, long time now. That just adds another Original 6 rivalry for us, Toronto and Montreal. It’s going to be interesting to see. It’ll be cool, for sure. They should definitely come up with some cool group names. I mean, we’re called the ‘Central’ right now and we can look at the Atlantic Ocean walking out of the rink.”

Lucic said he likes the idea of each division being named after a legendary player, including the Orr, Gretzky and Lemieux divisions.

“That would be a good idea and a pretty cool thing if they came up with that,” Lucic said.

Realignment would also mean there would be 16 teams in the east and only 14 in the west.

“To me, it seems you should always have 15 and 15, but I’m sure they’ve put a lot of thought into it, a lot of reasoning as to why this is a better system,” said Bruins forward Chris Kelly. “For travel purposes, this is probably the best, and if Detroit comes over, the east has gotten that much stronger because Detroit is obviously a great team.”

Kelly said he would be in favor of resurrecting the former Wales and Campbell conferences.

“I wouldn’t mind the Wales Conference and the Campbell Conference, bring back the old school. Maybe that would bring back some old fans,” Kelly said with a smile.

What about the legendary players divisions?

“That’s a pretty good idea,” Kelly said. “You’ve got to remember those guys that obviously helped this game so much and helped the game grow. I wouldn’t be opposed to that.”

Bruins coach Claude Julien hasn’t paid too much attention to the proposed realignment because he’s focused on the current season.

“I haven’t had a chance to look at it closely,” Julien said. “To me, you can waste a lot of time in my position thinking about it, but there’s still a big process that has to happen before it’s decided, and you can be wasting a lot of time trying to figure out what’s going to happen. Then at the end, it’s totally different from what it was, so I’m going wait and see when it gets a little bit closer to be determining if this will be accepted and probably you can get a comment from me then.”