The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) has given its consent to realignment according to a statement from NHLPA director Donald Fehr. The realignment plan was proposed by the National Hockey League (NHL) in late February but it had to receive the NHLPA’s approval before being ratified. That approval came Thursday from the players.
“After discussions with the Executive Board, the NHLPA has given consent to realignment, to be re-evaluated following the 2014-15 season,” NHLPA Executive Director Don Fehr said in his statement.
The next step in the process is taking the plan to NHL owners for a vote, which appears to be just a formality. The vote by the NHL Board of Governors is expected to happen quickly.
“The NHL Players’ Association confirmed to us today that it has consented to a revised Plan for Realignment, effective for the 2013-14 season,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement. “Our step will be to bring the proposed Plan for Realignment to the NHL Board of Governors for its consideration. We will update the status of the process as future developments warrant.”
Under the proposal, which should be in place for next season, there will be four divisions. The Blues will be in a division with Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville and Winnipeg. Both the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Detroit Red Wings will move to the East under the proposed plan.
There will be two conferences (East and West) and their numbers will be unbalanced. The East will have 16 teams, while the West will have only 14 teams. The top three teams in each division will earn a playoff berth. The final four playoff spots would go to the two teams in each conference with the next-best records. Essentially, teams in the West will have a 57% chance of making the playoffs while teams in the East will have a 50% chance of making it to postseason play.
The proposed plan will be re-evaluated after the 2014-15 season according to Fehr, meaning that this particular plan is only guaranteed for two NHL seasons while the sides assess its impact.
Here are the proposed divisions:
Atlantic division: Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington.
Central division: Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto.
Midwest division: Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, Winnipeg.
Pacific division: Anaheim, Los Angeles, Calgary, Edmonton, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver.