The league's board of governors approved a four-conference alignment format that was being trumpeted by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Monday at the December meetings in Pebble Beach, Calif.
The measure passed by a 26-4 vote, but the NHLPA still has to approve the two eight-team conferences and two seven-team conferences format.
Under the format, every team would play every other team outside its conference in a home-and-away series.
In the seven-team conferences, teams will play six times, three home, three away. In the eight-team conferences, teams would play either five or six times in a season on a rotating basis.
This process would reverse each season. An eight-team conference member that plays an opponent six times in one season would play it five times the following season.
The playoff implications from the new format would see the top four teams in each conference qualify for the postseason. The first-place team would play the fourth-place team while the second-place and third-place teams would square off.
The four respective conference champions would meet in the third round, with the two remaining teams playing for the Stanley Cup.
Here are how the new conferences shape up:
|Los Angeles Kings|
|San Jose Sharks|
|Columbus Blue Jackets|
|Detroit Red Wings|
|St. Louis Blues|
|Tampa Bay Lightning|
|Toronto Maple Leafs|
|New Jersey Devils|
|New York Islanders|
|New York Rangers|