NHL realignment is one step closer toward becoming a reality.
In a statement on Thursday afternoon, Donald Fehr announced that the NHLPA has given consent to realignment for the 2013-14 season with the understanding that it will be revisited and re-evaluated after the 2014-15 season.
The last remaining hurdle at this point is a board of governors vote at a time that has yet to be determined (once that vote happens it's assumed that the play is going to pass).
The NHL's plan would include Columbus and Detroit leaving the Western Conference and joining conferences with teams in the Eastern time zone, which will cut down on their travel. It does, however, add to the travel for the two Florida teams.
The proposed alignment looks like this:
|Division 1||Division 2|
|Carolina Hurricanes||Boston Bruins|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||Buffalo Sabres|
|New Jersey Devils||Detroit Red Wings|
|New York Islanders||Florida Panthers|
|New York Rangers||Montreal Canadiens|
|Philadelphia Flyers||Ottawa Senators|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||Tampa Bay Lightning|
|Washington Capitals||Toronto Maple Leafs|
And the Western side.
|Division 3||Division 4|
|Chicago Blackhawks||Anaheim Ducks|
|Colorado Avalanche||Calgary Flames|
|Dallas Stars||Edmonton Oilers|
|Minnesota Wild||Los Angeles Kings|
|Nashville Predators||Phoenix Coyotes|
|St. Louis Blues||San Jose Sharks|
|Winnipeg Jets||Vancouver Canucks|
The top-three teams in each division would qualify for the playoffs while the top-two remaining teams in each conference would complete the playoff field.