The National Hockey League announced Thursday that its planned realignment will take place next season after receiving approval from the board of governors.
The NHL Players' Association agreed to the new framework through the 2015-16 season with an understanding that it will review how it has fared after the 2014-15 season.
The Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets will shift to the Eastern Conference, which will group the 16 NHL franchises in the Eastern time zone in the same conference. The 14 others will now play in the Western Conference. Also, the league will go from six divisions to four.
"The new alignment will place several clubs in more geographically appropriate groupings, and will intensify already-fierce rivalries throughout the league," the NHL said.
The playoffs have also been altered, given the new division structure. Now, the top three teams in each division qualify for the playoffs with two wild cards coming from the remaining teams.