The NHL said Friday that it won't go forward with its realignment plan and modified playoff format next season after the players' association refused to agree to the changes.
The changes were approved in December by the NHL's board of governors, with the league planning to switch from two three-division conferences to four conferences.
The league said it will maintain its current alignment and playoff format next season.
"It is unfortunate that the NHLPA has unreasonably refused to approve a plan that an overwhelming majority of our clubs voted to support, and that has received such widespread support from our fans and other members of the hockey community, including players," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said.
A source told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun a possible next step for the NHL could be to bring a grievance against the NHLPA, if the league feels the players' association unreasonably withheld its consent. If the league wins that grievance, it could unilaterally implement realignment for the 2013-14 season.
Daly told LeBrun the league got the final "thumbs down" from the NHLPA on Friday.
Tell us here what you think of the NHLPA's refusing the realignment plan.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.