The NHL will have a whole new look. For the Buffalo Sabres, it means an additional trip to the Sunshine State.
The league's board of governors, meeting in California, approved a four-conference format in its first realignment since 1998. The Sabres' new division will include traditional rivals Boston, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, while the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning are the newcomers.
The other divisions are:
*Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, the New York Rangers and Islanders, New Jersey, Carolina and Washington.
*Winnipeg, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus, Dallas and Minnesota.
*Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, San Jose, Anaheim, Colorado and Phoenix.
Realignment became necessary when the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg during the offseason.
Teams will play the teams in their conference six times, three at home and three on the road. There will also be a home-and-home series with every other team in the league, a change from the present format in which teams are guaranteed to meet only once.
Four teams from each of the conferences will make the playoffs. The first two rounds will feature teams from within the conference.