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NHLPA gives consent to proposed realignment plan

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The National Hockey League today moved one step closer to implementing a new realignment plan for its 30 member clubs. 

In a press release issued this afternoon, NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr announced that the players' union has given its consent for the NHL to proceed with its proposed realignment plan. According to reports, the plan calls for two eight-team divisions and two seven-team divisions, would send the Blue Jackets to the Eastern Conference beginning with the 2013-14 NHL season if approved by the league's Board of Governors.

As part of the realignment plan, the Blue Jackets would compete in an eight-team division along with the following teams: the Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils and Washington Capitals.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed the Players' Association's consent in a statement issued this evening.

"The NHL Players' Association confirmed to us today that it has consented to a revised Plan for Realignment, effective for the 2013-14 season," Daly said. "Our next 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."

The Stanley Cup Playoffs format would reportedly still consist of 16 teams (eight in each conference) but the NHL is proposing a wild card system in which the top three teams in each division make the playoffs and the remaining spots filled by the two teams in each conference with the next best record.

Here are the divisional breakdowns for the entire NHL under the new plan, as first reported by Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada:

1) Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver

2) Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, Winnipeg

1) Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto

2) Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington

More details on on the proposed realignment plan can be found here. Stay tuned to for further updates on this story as it develops.

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