The NHL Players' Association has given consent to the NHL's realignment proposal, according to a press release from executive director Donald Fehr on Thursday night.
The NHLPA has consented to the realignment structure through the 2014-15 season. Following that season, the structure will be re-evaluated.
The proposal calls for the NHL to be re-organized into four divisions, split between two conferences. The conferences will be organized as "Eastern" and "Western." There will be 16 teams in the Eastern Conference (eight teams per division) and 14 teams in the Western Conference (seven teams per division).
This was believed to be a sticking point for the NHLPA, as teams in the Eastern Conference have worse odds than Western Conference teams to qualify for the postseason.
With the players' consent, the realignment proposal is in the home stretch of becoming a reality. The final step requires the NHL Board of Governors to vote on the proposal. When they voted on the proposal last year, it passed by a margin of 26-4.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly also released a statement confirming the players passing the proposal and stated that it will be brought before the owners in the coming days.