BUFFALO – The NHL Players’ Association consented to the NHL’s realignment plan this afternoon, meaning the league will use a four-division format next season.
The Sabres will play in a new Eastern Conference division featuring four Northeast Division holdovers – the Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs – and three newcomers – the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Western Conference transfer Detroit Red Wings – pending the approval of the Board of Governors.
Realignment also means a new postseason format. The top three finishers in each division make the playoffs. The two top remaining point-getters also qualify.
The NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said the realignment plan will be re-evaluated following the 2014-15 season.