Published Tuesday, 29 May 2012
Last season's champions, the Belfast Giants, are ready for the changes ahead. (© Michael Cooper)
For the 2012-13 campaign, the ten teams will be split into two conferences of five teams each, with each team playing rivals in their conference eight times in the season and teams in the other conference four times.
The Giants are joined by the Sheffield Steelers, Nottingham Panthers, Cardiff Devils and the Coventry Blaze, while the other conference will be made up of the Braehead Clan, Dundee Stars, Edinburgh Capitals, Fife Flyers and the Hull Stingrays.
If you're a Giants fan, you should be pleased with the new structure - you get to see more of the big games, while still getting two games in Belfast against the rest of the league.
Todd Kelman, Belfast Giants
"Over the last two seasons, our fans have increasingly expressed their desire to see more games against Cardiff, Coventry, Nottingham and Sheffield - which is what our fans get with this new structure," Giants general manager Todd Kelman said.
"You can't really say these conferences are based on geography, because logically that would put us in the conference with the Scottish teams and Hull in the other conference.
"But we have to fly to most games anyways and the trade-off for less travel to Scotland is more games against the teams we seem to be competing with each season for trophies."
The changes, similar to the divisions used in the NHL, were unanimously decided on in order to facilitate more derby matches for the teams at the bottom of the standings - improving competitiveness for everyone, as well as easing travel costs for most clubs.
The changes will also see the Challenge Cup add a quarterfinal stage - meaning four teams from each Challenge Cup Group will advance past the opening round, giving eight teams the opportunity to progress instead of four.