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March 14, 2013 at 5:51 PM
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NHL announcement realignment of divisions

NEW YORK, March 14 (UPI) -- The NHL Board of Governors has accepted a realignment plan that will divide the league's teams into four divisions, the league announced Thursday.

The NHL currently has three five-team divisions in each conference. Starting next season the realignment will have two eight-team divisions in the Eastern Conference and two seven-team groups in the West.

The top three teams from each division will advance to the playoffs, with two wild-card teams from each conference qualifying based on point totals regardless of division.

The current conference names -- Eastern and Western -- will be retained but new division names have yet to be announced.

The new Eastern Conference alignment has Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington in one division. The other East division will have Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Florida and Tampa Bay.

One division in the Western Conference will include Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg, while the other will consist of Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, San Jose, Los Angeles and Phoenix.

Detroit and Columbus will move from the Western Conference to the East, while Winnipeg will move from the Eastern Conference to the West.

In the seven-team divisions, teams would play non-divisional conference foes three times per season and five of the six divisional opponents five times a season. The sixth opponent within the division would be played four times.

The eight-team divisions would feature teams playing non-divisional conference foes three times and divisional opponents either four or five times per season on a rotating basis.

Teams will play non-conference opposition twice each year, once home and once away.

K.C. Chiefs cut Matt Cassel

KANSAS CITY, Mo., March 14 (UPI) -- The Kansas City Chiefs released quarterback Matt Cassel Thursday after acquiring quarterbacks Alex Smith and Chase Daniel.

Cassel, 30, had been with the Chiefs for three seasons, signing with Kansas City after four years mostly as a backup to Tom Brady at New England.

The Chiefs this week traded draft picks to get Smith from the San Francisco 49ers and signed Daniel, who played collegiately at Missouri, as a free agent. Daniel has played just five games over four seasons with New Orleans.

Smith was the starter for the 49ers until he was hurt this past season and his replacement Colin Kaepernick took San Francisco to the Super Bowl.

With Smith and Daniel joining the Kansas City roster, it was expected that Cassel would be released.

There were reports after the Chiefs' roster move that Cassel had signed with the Minnesota Vikings. The St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press said Cassel agreed to a multiyear deal with the Vikings and was penciled in as a backup to starter Christian Ponder.

Cassel was the starter for the Patriots in 2008, when Brady was injured in the first game of the season -- against Kansas City -- and missed the season. He was traded to the Chiefs the next February.

He played 48 games in Kansas City, starting 47, but his playing time was limited to seven games in each of the last two years by injuries.

While with Kansas City he completed 57.4 percent of his passes for 9,549 yards and 59 touchdowns against 44 interceptions. For his 78-game NFL career, he completed 1,203-of-2,044 passes for 13,495 yards and 82 touchdowns.

Wind washes out super-G finals

LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland, March 14 (UPI) -- Tina Maze of Slovenia was declared the women's super-G champion Thursday after strong winds in Switzerland canceled the World Cup Finals racing in the event.

Julia Mancuso of the United States clinched second place, 55 points behind Maze.

Austrian Anna Fenninger took third place and American Lindsey Vonn, who was not scheduled to compete due to a knee injury, finished the season in fourth place.

The men's super-G did get under way Tuesday but the blustery winds took enough of a toll that International Skiing Federation officials decided it was too dangerous to continue.

"I'm alive," said Frenchman Gauthier de Tessieres, who was the first racer on the course and completed the harrowing run despite some near crashes.

Klaus Kroell of Austria, who was second in the downhill standings, was the last racer on the course and wound up crashing into the safety netting and fracturing his shoulder.

Best Tricks events pulled from X Games

BRISTOL, Conn., March 14 (UPI) -- The Best Trick events, featuring Moto X and snowmobile athletes, have been removed from future X Games, ESPN announced.

The decision follows the January death of Caleb Moore in the Snowmobile Best Trick competition in Aspen, Colo., said an ESPN spokesman whose name was not reported.

Cancellation of the events is not directly linked to an investigation into Moore's death, the spokesman said.

"This decision was under consideration before Aspen, and, in fact, our review of snowmobile freestyle continues," he said.

Moore died of heart and head injuries sustained when he under-rotated a back flip and was crushed by his snowmobile.

The sports network said in a statement the decision to end the Best Trick events "reflects our decision to focus on motor sports disciplines which feature athletes who also compete in multiple, world-class competitions reflecting the highest degree of athlete participation, competitive development and the global nature of our X Games franchise."

Freestyle motorsports competition will continue at the X Games, ESPN said.

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