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Withholding consent: More details from NHLPA regarding realignment

Jan 7, 2012, 9:35 PM EDT

NHLPA

We’re slowly learning more about the NHLPA’s unwillingness to give their consent to the league’s realignment proposal. While it may have came as a bit of a shock when the league executives issued their release that realignment will be postponed, today it was revealed that the vote wasn’t even close among player representatives. Fans and the league may be in favor of immediate realignment—but the vast majority of player representatives voted against the proposal as currently conceived.  No wonder the NHLPA would not give their consent before the league’s self-imposed January 6 deadline.

Elliotte Friedman shared the knowledge this evening. “First of all, the vote was 28-2 among the Players’ Association,” Friedman said on the CBC’s Hotstove segment. “The only two teams that were in favor of realignment were Detroit and Columbus. The other 28 players voted against it. Secondly thing is, there was a schedule provided to the Players’ Association—it was Vancouver’s and it was a partial schedule for next year. I think only about 60 games were on it. That’s what the Players’ Association didn’t like; that early look at the Vancouver schedule…”

Various players around the league were also speaking out as the dust continued to settle. For the most part, it sounds like the players were not willing to agree to realignment because of all of the unknowns involved. Players were unsure how the new conferences would affect their everyday lives and travel schedule throughout the six month regular season.

“The travel would have been big for a lot of teams, would have changed things,” Mike Knuble told the Washington Post. “We just wanted to request more information – show us a schedule what the schedule might look like and how the teams might be run around the country. It’s a lot of time and a lot of grind, the season’s a grind enough was it going to add a lot more? It might have.”

In the same rink, San Jose Sharks player rep Joe Pavelski shared his opinion a little later. Instead of travel, his main concern centered around the unbalanced conferences and possible playoff implications. “I think playoffs was big. It’s why we play the game,” Pavelski said. “There’s definitely an advantage; four to seven, four to eight.”

It’s fairly obvious to most observers that this is only the first shot fired in what will be a lengthy collective bargaining process. But simply discarding the decision as a bargain chip in the negotiations would to undermind the serious concerns of players in just about every market. Just because the realignment may work for players on a specific team, that doesn’t mean things will look as positive if a player is traded to a different team next season. Dallas Stars’ player representative Adam Burish explained the rationale:

No matter what happens, this is only the first dispute in what will prove to be a hotly contested confrontation. After hearing some more of the specifics and the opinions of players, does it make you change your opinion on realignment?

  1. sharksfan754 - Jan 7, 2012 at 9:52 PM

    I couldn’t agree with pavelski more. The reason this proposed realignment sucks is because of the playoff format with a big east coast advantage. I do feel for east coast time zone residents having your teams games come on at 1030 local time is a major inconvenience to say the least

  2. hank10 - Jan 7, 2012 at 10:33 PM

    1) Sorry that the geography of the NHL is inconvenient for some teams.

    2) Want to make travel and playoffs easier: contraction. Get rid of the FL teams. Get rid of Carolina, Nashville, Ottawa, Phoenix and Columbus. Players Association want to go that route and loose jobs?

    3) Why couldn’t the NHL get out a draft schedule? Surely they have computers that can put one together for discussion purposes. Or, do they have 3 guys in a room wearing green visors, garters on their sleeves and using a black board?

  3. skm15 - Jan 7, 2012 at 10:59 PM

    If the NHL doesn’t get their way Bill Daley comes out and goes after the NHLPA through the press. It’s getting old. It’s suppose to be a partnership between the league and players. The NHL should spend less time on PR and more time working with the NHLPA.

  4. flyerscup2010 - Jan 8, 2012 at 12:07 AM

    is adam burish really the stars’ player rep? i guess he has plenty of time to devote to that while he’s a healthy scratch.

  5. cmdaw - Jan 8, 2012 at 12:33 AM

    What I wonder is why wasn’t it proposed to do what the AHL had done in the past when they did divisional series with some divisions being unbalanced (as in having more teams than the the other division in the conference? In that situation, if the 5th place team in the division with more teams had a better record than the 4th place team in the division with fewer teams, they joined the playoffs instead of the team in 4th place. While they’d be playing in the playoffs outside of their division, it seemed like it made things a little more equal. Of course, then the AHL completely re-did itself into a 6 division, 2 conference structure with the top 8 making it, modeling after the NHL’s current format.

  6. trbowman - Jan 8, 2012 at 1:03 AM

    I fully applaud the NHLPA.

    The proposed realignment plan was horrible, and the playoff format even worse.

  7. warpstonebc - Jan 8, 2012 at 4:50 AM

    I wasn’t a fan of the playoff format, but realignment was golden. The current system and especially the unbalanced schedule is just non-intuitive on so many levels (i.e. “we see Ovechkin, Stamkos and Crosby in our own rink only once every 3 years?!”

    If the media are any judge, most fans were really excited about the realignment. The NHLPA might lose a lot of support here for condemning us to another year of Bettman’s stupid “unbalanced schedule.”

  8. buffalomafia - Jan 8, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    WTF! I said this numerous times, have two 16 team conferences where top 8 in each conference make playoffs.

    Second have #1 seed play#16 seed & so on.

    Last have every team play each other more than once out of conference so the fans could enjoy the sport!

  9. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jan 8, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    I don’t know why people are upset with the union and the players over this. Why would anyone accept sweeping changes to their way of life with little or know information about how those changes will affect them?

  10. buffalomafia - Jan 8, 2012 at 5:52 PM

    These players make millions of $$$$$ playing a kids sport! If they dont like the travel than take a minimum wage job or be unemployed like the millions of Americans!

    The more money these players make the more they cry?!

  11. deterrant25 - Jan 9, 2012 at 12:51 AM

    In Vancouver, we get Crosby (when healthy), Ovechkin, the Bruins, etc. once every few years. It may not have a huge effect on revenues for the Canucks, but other Western Conference teams might build their fan base by eliminating the unbalanced schedule. If growing the game is a priority for the NHL, why would you restrict your product? Each team playing each other home and away every year at least once, needs to be a priority. If costs are the issue, maybe the NHL shouldn’t be buying teams to manage themselves. Strange way to do business.

    All Eastern biases asside, if I played in the Eastern conference, I wouldn’t want a change either. Sleeping in your own bed more nights than not, is a pretty good incentive. However, I think for the good of the game, the product needs to be marketed to the entire league not just the east coast.

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