The NHL map is finally in order with Detroit and Columbus heading east, and Winnipeg moving west.
"We're thrilled, absolutely thrilled," Blue Jackets executive John Davidson said on a telephone conference call Thursday, shortly after the realignment plan was approved in a vote by the league's board of governors.
The new format goes into effect next season, and will feature two eight-team divisions in the Eastern Conference, including the Red Wings and Blue Jackets. The Jets will now be part of a Western Conference that's made up of two seven-team divisions.
It's a plan that Commissioner Gary Bettman called "fan-friendly," because it aligns teams by divisions that are mostly in the same time zones. And Bettman noted it will re-establish numerous rivalries by geography and tradition.
Detroit returns to the East in a yet-to-be named division that will feature three other Original Six franchises, Toronto, Boston and Montreal. And Winnipeg is now part of a central-based division after having spent the past two years playing in the Southeast.
Without providing details, Bettman said the vote conducted by email was not unanimous, but "well in excess" of the two-thirds majority required.
The new format also creates changes in determining the 16-team playoff field. The top three teams in each division will qualify for the postseason. The next two teams with the best records in each conference will then earn wild-card berths.
Cleveland signing: The Cleveland Browns have agreed to terms with running back Chris Ogbonnaya (O-bin-eye-ya) on a two-year contract.
Ogbonnaya made one start and played in 15 games last season, usually replacing Trent Richardson on third down. He finished with 24 receptions for 187 yards and gained 30 yards on eight carries.
Bryant apologizes: Browns defensive lineman Desmond Bryant put on a much better face than the one that went viral recently.
Bryant, who signed a five-year, $34 million free agent contract with Cleveland earlier this week, apologized Thursday for his recent arrest, which was followed by his infamous police mug shot -- his eyes half closed, his tongue sticking out -- that became a social media target and was lampooned by late-night TV talk show host Jimmy Kimmel.
No tuck rule?: The tuck rule could disappear from NFL games if owners approve a proposal from the competition committee to dump it.
The owners also will consider a change to instant replay rules allowing for a video review even when a coach makes an illegal challenge.
Coach fired: Ball State has fired coach Billy Taylor less than 24 hours after losing to Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference tournament.
There had been speculation all season that Taylor was on his way out, but when the Cardinals won five straight and seven of eight to advance to Cleveland in the tourney, some thought Taylor may have saved his job.
Kobe hoping to play: Kobe Bryant says Dahntay Jones' dangerous defense left him with a sprained left ankle, and the NBA agreed.
Bryant spent Thursday getting several hours of treatment on what he called the worst sprained ankle of his 17 NBA seasons, hoping to be healthy for tonight's game at Indiana.
Chicago beats Jackets: Patrick Kane set up Johnny Oduya's goal late in the second period and then netted the decisive score in the shootout, leading Chicago over Columbus.
Corey Crawford stopped 29 shots to help the Blackhawks end a two-game losing streak.
Hamlin fine: Denny Hamlin and NASCAR settled their censorship flap Thursday when he announced he would not appeal the $25,000 fine levied against him for criticizing the new Gen-6 car.
But Hamlin held his ground on refusing to pay the fine. NASCAR said the fine will be settled per the rule book, which allows the sanctioning body to garnish the money from a driver's race winnings.
Nadal defeats Federer: Rafael Nadal defeated error-prone Roger Federer 6-4, 6-2 in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open in the earliest meeting between the two rivals since they first played each other in 2004.