The Red Wings are about to cut down on their frequent-flier miles. (David Guralnick/Detroit News)
The NHL's Board of Governors has approved a realignment proposal, the league announced on its website Thursday, meaning the Red Wings are headed to the Eastern Conference.
The changes will take effect next season.
Under the new, two-conference, four-division format, the Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets will join 14 other teams in the Eastern Conference. The Winnipeg Jets will move to the Western Conference, giving it 14 teams. More tantalizing for fans, it will put four Original Six teams — the Wings, Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs — in the same division.
The realignment is being made so teams can play the bulk of their games against teams in the same time zone.
The format of the Stanley Cup playoffs also is changing, with a wild-card system being added. The top three teams in each division will earn playoff berths, with wild cards being given to the next two highest-ranking teams (based on points) in each conference.
For now, the divisions are simply Division A, Division B, Division C and Division D. The league will announce permanent names later. A and B will be in the Western Conference. C and D, which will consist of eight teams each, will be in the Eastern Conference.
A look at the teams in each division:
Detroit Red Wings
Toronto Maple Leafs
Tampa Bay Lightning
Columbus Blue Jackets
New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders
New York Rangers
Los Angeles Kings
San Jose Sharks
St. Louis Blues
Check back with detroitnews.com for more on this story as it develops.