The Lightning will soon need good packing skills more than ever.
Monday in Pebble Beach, Calif., NHL officials approved a radical realignment plan, giving the league four conferences instead of six divisions and guaranteeing home-and-home series among all teams.
The Board of Governors authorized commissioner Gary Bettman to implement the proposal pending input with the NHL Players' Association. It could be put in place as early as next season.
What does it mean for Tampa Bay?
Put it this way: After Florida, its next closest geographic rivals in the current Eastern Conference are Washington and Carolina. Neither will be in the same conference under the new alignment — but three Canadian cities, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, will be.
"All the Canadian teams, that's a far trip, I don't know," Lightning wing Ryan Malone told the St. Petersburg Times after Monday's loss at Ottawa. "I didn't see that coming. I was going to say something funny about Gary Bettman but I'm going to keep it to myself."
Teammate Steven Stamkos, a native of Unionville, Ontario, outside Toronto, said: "I get another trip in to see family and friends. But that's something we'll deal with next year. We have enough to think about this season."
The league considered two plans to accommodate Atlanta's move to Winnipeg this past summer. The first would have simply moved the Jets to the Central Division and either Detroit or Columbus to the Southeast.
"The simple one wasn't as simple as it looked when you got done with it," Bettman said.
So the board chose the more dramatic switch, creating four geographic conferences — two with eight teams, two with seven.
Four teams would make the playoffs from each conference.
"I can't say … that this makes me feel great," Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said. "But we'll see. Sometimes things that don't look so good end up being the best."
ESPN fires Barnaby after second arrest
BUFFALO, N.Y. — ESPN fired hockey analyst Matthew Barnaby a day after the former player was arrested and charged with drunken driving for driving erratically in an SUV that was missing a front tire. On Sunday, Erie County (N.Y.) sheriffs said Barnaby was driving a Porsche Cayenne with front-end damage and a sparking rim in the Buffalo suburb of Clarence, where he lives. In July, Barnaby, 38, was ordered to complete 500 hours of community service to have charges dropped stemming from an argument he had with his estranged wife in May.
First—1, Toronto, Franson 2 (Liles, Kessel), 6:01. Penalties—Rosehill, Tor, major (fighting), 2:05; Prust, NYR, major (fighting), 2:05; Rosehill, Tor (hooking), 11:21; Fedotenko, NYR (hooking), 14:16; Callahan, NYR (holding), 18:52.
Second—2, Toronto, Connolly 4 (Frattin), 5:12. 3, Toronto, Lupul 13 (Bozak, Kessel), 6:49 (pp). 4, N.Y. Rangers, Anisimov 4 (Prust, Del Zotto), 13:00. 5, N.Y. Rangers, Gaborik 13 (Stepan, Richards), 14:32 (pp). Penalties—Anisimov, NYR (hooking), 6:36; Steckel, Tor (interference), 13:20; Bozak, Tor (hooking), 14:12.
Third—6, Toronto, Steckel 5 (Schenn), 19:55 (en-sh). Penalties—Bozak, Tor (hooking), 10:23; Anisimov, NYR (hooking), 17:11; MacArthur, Tor (high-sticking), 18:30. Shots—Toronto 12-10-8—30. N.Y. Rangers 8-12-12—32. Power plays—Toronto 1 of 4; N.Y. Rangers 1 of 5. Goalies—Toronto, Gustavsson 9-5-0 (32 shots-30 saves). N.Y. Rangers, Lundqvist 11-5-3 (29-26). A—18,200 (18,200). T—2:33.
First—1, Florida, Weiss 10 (Campbell, Kulikov), 6:50 (pp). 2, Florida, Santorelli 4 (Kulikov, Weaver), 7:03. 3, Florida, Kulikov 3 (Campbell, Weiss), 16:31 (pp). 4, Washington, Knuble 3 (Johansson, Orlov), 17:11. Penalties—Versteeg, Fla (cross-checking), 2:58; Perreault, Was (high-sticking), 5:47; Erskine, Was, served by Perreault, minor-major-misconduct (instigator, fighting), 10:22; Kearns, Fla, major (fighting), 10:22; Brouwer, Was (interference), 15:16; Alzner, Was (boarding), 19:55.
Second—5, Florida, Bergenheim 4 (Matthias, Garrison), 3:41 (pp). 6, Florida, Weiss 11 (Fleischmann, Campbell), 12:11. 7, Washington, Eakin 3 (Perreault, Carlson), 19:40. Penalties—Orlov, Was (slashing), 2:12.
Third—8, Washington, Laich 6 (Ward, Carlson), 12:09. 9, Washington, Chimera 11 (Carlson, Halpern), 18:16. Penalties—Weaver, Fla (hooking), 3:29; Backstrom, Was (holding), 12:36. Shots—Washington 9-10-13—32. Florida 11-13-6—30. Power plays—Washington 0 of 2; Florida 3 of 6. Goalies—Washington, Neuvirth 3-5-1 (30 shots-25 saves). Florida, Clemmensen 3-0-0 (32-28). A—16,337 (17,040). T—2:27.
First—None. Penalties—Dupuis, Pit (holding), 5:27; Despres, Pit (slashing), 8:25; Campbell, Bos (interference), 12:19.
Second—1, Boston, Campbell 2 (Paille, Thornton), 2:57. 2, Boston, Pouliot 4 (Peverley), 7:18. Penalties—Marchand, Bos, minor-major (tripping, fighting), 3:19; Niskanen, Pit, major (fighting), 3:19; Chara, Bos (interference), 4:09; Despres, Pit (tripping), 8:04; Pouliot, Bos (goaltender interference), 16:06; Peverley, Bos (hooking), 16:06; Staal, Pit (interference), 20:00.
Third—3, Boston, Seguin 13 (Bergeron, Peverley), 1:07 (pp). 4, Pittsburgh, Cooke 6 (Vitale), 10:54. Penalties—Kunitz, Pit (tripping), 4:39; Campbell, Bos, major (fighting), 11:08; Vitale, Pit, major (fighting), 11:08. Shots—Boston 11-8-8—27. Pittsburgh 6-17-23—46. Power plays—Boston 1 of 5; Pittsburgh 0 of 5. Goalies—Boston, Thomas 13-4-0 (46 shots-45 saves). Pittsburgh, Fleury 14-5-2 (27-24). A—18,585 (18,387). T—2:33.