This season features a realignment of the league's 30 teams from a six to a four division format. The regular season began Tuesday, October 1, and concluded Sunday, April 13. The Stanley Cup playoffs began April 16.
The Los Angeles Kings won their second Stanley Cup championship in franchise history (second in three seasons), defeating the New York Rangers four games to one in the Finals.
The relocation of the former Atlanta Thrashers franchise to the current Winnipeg Jets in 2011 prompted the league to discuss realignment. On December 5, 2011, the NHL Board of Governors approved a conference realignment plan that would eliminate the current six-division setup and move into a four-conference structure from the 2012–13 season. Under the plan, which was designed to better accommodate the effects of time zone differences, each team would have played 50 or 54 intra-conference games, depending on whether it was in a seven- or eight-team conference, and two games (home and road) against each non-conference team. On January 6, 2012, the league announced that the NHLPA had rejected the proposed realignment, citing concerns about fairness, travel and the inability to see a draft schedule before approving, and that as a result, it would not implement the realignment until at least 2013–14.
Upon NHLPA rejection of the previous realignment, a new joint NHL-NHLPA plan was proposed in February 2013 as a modification of the previous plan with both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings moving to the East and the Winnipeg Jets moving to the West. This revised plan also adjusted the previously proposed four-conference system to a four-division/two-conference system, with the Eastern Conference consisting of two eight-team divisions, and the Western Conference consisting of two seven-team divisions. A new playoff format was also introduced to accommodate the new proposal, with the top three teams in each division making the playoffs, along with two wild-cards in each conference (for a total of 16 playoff teams). The NHLPA officially gave its consent to the NHL's proposed realignment plan on March 7, and then the NHL's Board of Governors approved the realignment and the new playoff format on March 14, to be implemented prior to the 2013–14 season. The league then announced the names of the divisions on July 19: the two eight-team divisions in the Eastern Conference would be the Atlantic Division and the Metropolitan Division, and the two seven-team divisions in the Western Conference would be the Central Division and the Pacific Division.
Canadian TV deals
The league's Canadian broadcast agreements with CBC and TSN/RDS expired at the end of the season. At the same time, the league had reportedly aimed for its next round of Canadian television contracts to have a value of at least $3.2 billion in total. During negotiations, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman had reportedly recognized the broadcaster's financial difficulties and budget cuts imposed by the federal Conservative government which had decreased CBC's chances of maintaining rights to Hockey Night in Canada and offered CBC a simplified broadcast package which would have consisted of a national doubleheader on Saturday nights (as opposed to regional coverage of multiple games), reduced playoff coverage, and the loss of digital rights and the All-Star Game. Rights to the remaining properties not covered under the CBC's contract would have been offered to other broadcasters. However, CBC Sports' staff, including executive director Jeffrey Orridge, continued to insist that it have exclusivity for every Saturday night game involving Canadian teams. In turn, CBC failed to reach a deal; BCE (owners of Bell Media and previous cable rightsholder TSN and over the air broadcaster, CTV) made a bid for sole national rights to the NHL, and attempted to contact the CBC in regards to forming a partnership. However, CBC Sports' staff did not respond. In turn, Rogers Communications also made a bid of its own.
On November 26, 2013, the NHL announced it had sold twelve seasons' worth of exclusive national broadcast rights to NHL games to Rogers, who would broadcast games across its numerous platforms, including Sportsnet, Sportsnet One, and City, at a price of C$5.2 billion. Hockey Night in Canada would continue on the CBC for the next four seasons; the CBC would give Rogers six hours of free airtime each night to air the broadcasts but paid no rights fee. CBC would be allotted time during the broadcasts to promote its other programming. French language broadcasts were moved to TVA Sports under a sub-licensing deal with Rogers. The moves have left both Bell Media (except for its regional properties) and the CBC (which, in turn, would no longer compete with private broadcasters for professional sports) officially shut out of the national NHL broadcasts.