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NHL governors approve realignment

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NHL owners have made it official: The Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets are heading east. 

The league announced Thursday that its board of governors approved a realignment plan that will be put into effect next season. The new format will feature two eight-team divisions in the Eastern Conference, and two seven-team divisions in the West. 

That means Detroit and Columbus will switch conferences by moving into the East, while the Winnipeg Jets will move into the Western Conference. 

The top three seeds in each division will qualify for the playoffs. The next two teams with the best records in each conference will earn wild-card playoff berths. 

The NHL Players' Association signed off on the realignment format, which will be in place for at least three seasons.

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