Realignment plan approved by NHLPA -

Realignment plan approved by NHLPA

(Hockey StL) -- 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. The next step in the process is taking the plan to NHL owners for a vote, which appears to be just a formality.

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.

Here are the proposed divisions:

Eastern Conference

Atlantic division: Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, New York IslandersNew York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington.

Central division: Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto.

Western Conference

Midwest division: Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, Winnipeg.

Pacific division: Ducks, Kings, Calgary, Edmonton, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver.

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