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NLL Unveils Division Realignment; Plans for Future Expansion

The NLL announces division realignment, schedule details, new playoff format and plans for future expansion.

On September 9, the NLL announced the league would undergo a division realignment, as well as revealed schedule details, a new playoff format and plans for future expansion.

For the 2019-20 season, the NLL will realign from two divisions to three in order to accommodate the addition of expansion teams New York Riptide and Rochester Knighthawks and new market Halifax Thunderbirds.

The five teams that comprised the West Division in 2018-19 will remain as the West Division this season. The six franchises that made up the East Division in 2018-19, will be redistributed among the East Division and the newly formed North Division.

West

Calgary Roughnecks
Colorado Mammoth
San Diego Seals
Saskatchewan Rush
Vancouver Warriors

North

Buffalo Bandits
Halifax Thunderbirds
Rochester Knighthawks
Toronto Rock

East

Georgia Swarm
New England Black Wolves
New York Riptide
Philadelphia Wings

With the announcement of the new division realignment, NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz hinted that we could see the league expand even more in the near future.

“The league has had unprecedented expansion over the last three years. With two more teams coming in this year along with a new market in Halifax, we felt the need to reexamine conference alignments, schedule, and playoff formats to prepare for future expansion,” said NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz. “We also wanted to create exciting rivalries for the fans, the best travel scenarios for teams and players and competitive match-ups for our 13 franchises.”

While the NLL did not reveal any markets for potential expansion, Lacrosse Classified’s Jake Elliott spoke to LaxSportsNet and revealed he expects Dallas to be the home of a new NLL franchise in the near future.

In addition to division realignment, NLL regular season schedule format will see each franchise face the other 12 teams at least once during the 18-game season.

As for the NLL playoffs, eight teams will once again qualify with the three division winners will now automatically receive the top three seeds. The three second-place teams in each of the three divisions will receive the fourth through sixth seeds, while the seventh and eighth “wild card” seeds will be awarded to the next two best records from any division.

The first two rounds of the playoffs will remain single-elimination and teams will not be re-seeded after the opening round. The championship round will remain as a best-of-three series with the highest remaining seed hosting Game 1 and, if necessary, Game 3.

Hutton Jackson is a professional video editor, co-founder/host of Pro Lacrosse Talk and editor-in-chief of Lacrosse Playground. He is also an Emmy-winning associate producer with two major sports networks and oversees Lacrosse Playground's video content as the head coordinating producer. Hutton played four years of college lacrosse at DeSales University where his highest lacrosse accolade was being named to Inside Lacrosse's 2014 All-Name Team with current pros Challen Rogers, Deemer Class and Larken Kemp, an honor that didn't require stepping on the field. When he's not writing on lacrosse, he can usually be found diving around the crease in your local men's league and ranting about Baltimore and D.C. professional sports.

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Timothy Hutchins
Timothy Hutchins
1 year ago

I love that the N.L.L. is finally getting organized, and expanding into new markets! It seems unlikely that they will stop at one more franchise in Dallas, which would leave one division with 4 teams while the other two divisions have 5 teams. What are the chances they add Dallas, and one additional franchise? Where could that second expansion franchise potentially land? Somewhere in Canada seems like a potential landing spot since they seem to be consistently adding teams there. They could even potentially end up with 4 divisions with 5 teams each! I know I FOR SURE would absolutely LOVE to see 4 divisions with a total of 20 teams!! I love this league, and I love the Bandits!!!!!

Hutton Jackson
Hutton Jackson
1 year ago

Yeah the odds are high that either Dallas or Vegas get a franchise next year. On the podcast, Nick Sakiewicz confirmed that the NLL will add 3 more teams within the next 3 years (one each year).

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