NHL Governors Approve Realignment - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

NHL Governors Approve Realignment

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NEW YORK (AP/NewsChannel 5) - NHL owners have made it official: The Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets are heading east.

The league announced Thursday that its board of governors approved a realignment plan that will be put into effect next season. The new format will feature two eight-team divisions in the Eastern Conference, and two seven-team divisions in the West.

That means Detroit and Columbus will switch conferences by moving into the East, while the Winnipeg Jets will move into the Western Conference.

The top three seeds in each division will qualify for the playoffs. The next two teams with the best records in each conference will earn wild-card playoff berths.

The NHL Players' Association signed off on the realignment format, which will be in place for at least three seasons.

The Nashville Predators released this statements after the announcement: "The Nashville Predators voted in support of the realignment plan. We believe this plan is in the best interests of our players, fans and the league. For our fans it means approximately 70 of our 82 regular season games will be played in the Eastern or Central time zone. Fans will also have the opportunity, as a result of the addition of home-and-home series with all Eastern Conference teams, to see every NHL team visit Bridgestone Arena each season. For our players, it reduces the travel to the Mountain and Pacific time zones and allows them to match up with every NHL team at least twice each season. Under this realignment, we retain our established rivalries with Chicago and St. Louis and look forward to creating new division rivalries with Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota and Winnipeg."

(The Associated Press and NewsChannel 5.)

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