The NHL Board of Governors has approved the realignment plan proposed last week, and changes will officially go into effect for the 2013-14 season.
This was the final step in the process, as the NHL Players' Association had already voted in favor of the realignment proposal. With both sides in agreement on the structure, the new system will be implemented prior to next season.
The main changes to the NHL's current structure will involve the league shifting to two conferences composed of two divisions. The Winnipeg Jets will be moving to the Western Conference, while the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings will be moving east.
This means the Eastern Conference will be composed of two, eight-team divisions, while the Western Conference will be composed of two, seven-team divisions.
Playoffs will also be changing, as the implementation of two wild card teams per conference will be introduced. The top three teams in each division will qualify for the postseason, while the next two highest teams will earn wild card berths. The highest-seeded No. 1 will face the lowest-seeded wild card. This could result in one division sending a maximum of five teams to the playoffs.
In this structure, the No. 2 and No. 3 seed in each division will face one another. The winner of that series will face the winner of the No. 1 seed against the wild card seed, which will determine a division champion. The division champions will play each other in relation to what conference they play in.
This will result in an Eastern and Western Conference champion, who will play each other for the Stanley Cup.