Western Conference (NHL)


Western Conference (NHL)
Western Conference
NHL Western Conference.svg
Western Conference logo, circa 2006
League National Hockey League
Sport Ice hockey
Founded 1974 (as the Clarence Campbell Conference)
No. of teams 15
Most recent champion(s) Vancouver Canucks (3rd title)
French version of the Western Conference logo

The Western Conference (French: Conférence de l'Ouest) is one of two conferences in the National Hockey League (NHL) used to divide teams. Its counterpart is the Eastern Conference.

Previously known as the Clarence Campbell Conference (or Campbell Conference), it was created in 1974 when the NHL realigned its teams into two conferences and four divisions. Because the new conferences and divisions had little to do with North American geography, geographical references were removed. The conferences and divisions were re-aligned in 1981 to better reflect the geographical locations of the teams, but the existing names were retained with the Campbell Conference becoming the conference for the NHL's westernmost teams. The names of conferences and divisions were changed in 1993 to reflect their geographic locations. Then-new NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made the change to help non-hockey fans better understand the game, as the National Basketball Association, National Football League, and Major League Baseball all use geographic-based names for their conferences and divisions. However, the trophy awarded to the conference champion, the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl, retains some connection to the heritage of the league. In 2005, following the lockout, Gary Bettman changed the Western Conference logo (along with the Eastern Conference and NHL logos) to its current form.

Divisions

Before the 1993 realignment, the Campbell Conference consisted of the Norris Division and the Smythe Division. Currently, the Western Conference comprises 15 teams in three divisions: Central, Northwest, and Pacific.

Central
Northwest
Pacific

Champions

Prior to 1982, the NHL had a unique playoff system compared to the NFL, NBA. and MLB. Playoff teams were seeded regardless of conference.[1] As a result, two teams from the same conference could meet in the Stanley Cup Finals, like what happened in 1977, 1978, and 1980. Under this system, the Campbell Conference champion, and therefore the winner of the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl, was the team that finished with the best regular season record in the conference.

Ever since the introduction of the Conference Finals in 1982, the Campbell Bowl has been presented to the Campbell/Western Conference playoff champions.

References


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