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By The Sports Xchange March 14, 2013 7:30 PM
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 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. --The Tampa Bay Lightning recalled forward Tyler Johnson from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced. The 22-year-old has scored a league-leading 31 goals in 59 games this season with the Crunch. He scored 11 of those goals on the power play and had six multi-goal games. Johnson originally signed with the Lightning as a free agent on March 7, 2011. --The Chicago Blackhawks assigned forward Rostislav Olesz to the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL. The 27-year-old hasn't appeared in a game with Chicago this season, but he played in six games with the Blackhawks in 2011-12. He has played in 355 career NHL games with the Florida Panthers and Chicago.