NEW YORK (AP) - The NHL moved a step closer to realignment Thursday as the players' association approved a proposed plan that is set to go into effect next season.
Now that the league has gotten the go-ahead from union chief Donald Fehr, the NHL will only need to get approval from team owners.
"The NHL Players' Association confirmed to us today that it has consented to a revised plan for realignment, effective for the 2013-14 season," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement. "Our next step will be to bring the proposed plan for realignment to the NHL board of governors for its consideration."
Fehr signed off on the plan after discussions with the union's executive board and said the realignment issue will be "re-evaluated following the 2014-15 season."
No official details of the changes have been released by the NHL, but it is widely believed teams such as Detroit and Columbus will be put into more travel-friendly divisions in the Eastern time zone, and the Winnipeg Jets - formerly the Atlanta Thrashers - will leave the Southeast Division for the Western Conference.