\"I think it\'s clear that there will be a change,\" NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said after the four-hour meeting with owners. (AP Photo/Don Heupel)
The league's board of governors agreed it was time for a change Tuesday, setting the stage for a vote in late November that will bring in a new format. It will see teams face off at least once against every single team in the league starting in 2008-09.
"I think it's clear that there will be a change," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said after the four-hour meeting with owners.
The current format has been in existence since the lockout ended and has ignited much debate among owners.
It features eight games versus each divisional opponent - too many according to some - and only 10 games (five on the road) against non-conference opponents.
Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins finally plays his first regular-season games in Edmonton, Vancouver and Calgary this season - his third year in the league.
The vote at the next owners' meeting will require two-thirds majority to pass and Bettman was confident it would happen after conducting a straw poll Tuesday.
"I don't know what the change will be but I think it's safe to say that we will be looking at a vote on the change at the December (late November) meeting," said Montreal Canadiens president Pierre Boivin. "We had a very good discussion today. It's a difficult topic and it's hard to find consensus.
"But I think the league will come back with some recommendations that should end up in more inter-conference play next season."