The NHLPA refused to provide its blessing to the plan for re-alignment, meaning as it stands right now, next year’s alignment and playoff format will remain the same as this year.
Call it what you will, but this seems like new NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr whipping it out and showing it to Commissioner Gary Bettman and telling him that the NHLPA won’t be pushed around. The realignment plan was expected to be rubber-stamped, but concerns over travel and the uneven conference format were the reasons for the NHLPA not to approve it. Apparently, according to the NHL, the NHLPA wanted a draft schedule before they would approve it. The NHL had asked for the NHLPA’s approval by January 6th so that they could start making the new schedule.
That is ridiculous. The NHLPA wanted a full “draft” schedule, breaking down the distance traveled by each team before teams need to enter available dates? An insane request and one the smacks of the NHLPA preparing for a battle in the negotiation of the new CBA. It also smacks of Fehr picking this issue to establish his spot at the negotiating table and show that he won’t be bullied by the NHL.
As for the unbalanced conference problem, if you aren’t in the top 4 of the conference, whether it is 7 or 8 teams, you probably shouldn’t be in the playoffs anyway. For years the old Patrick Division had an extra team and instead of having 1 team miss the playoffs, the Patrick had 2 teams miss every year. Steve Lloyd from the TEAM1200 radio station in Ottawa tweeted it best :
So true. The alignment would work much better with 2 less teams. Would the NHLPA like 50 or so fewer jobs more than a slightly less chance of making the playoffs?
If this is indeed just a negotiation ploy by Fehr to have a D&#k-measuring contest with Bettman, I don’t think it matters a bit whether or not the NHLPA approves the realignment plan in time for implementation in the 2012-13 season.
There won’t be a 2012-13 season.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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