No NHL Realignment Next Season

6 Jan

If you were looking forward to the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes being in the Flyers’ division, hold the phones. It won’t be happening next year.

The NHL announced in a press release that it will not move forward with the plans since the NHL Players Association denied consent to proceed with realignment.

“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,” said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly in a press release. “We have now spent the better part of four weeks attempting to satisfy the NHLPA’s purported concerns with the Plan with no success. Because we have already been forced to delay, and as a result are already late in beginning the process of preparing next season’s schedule, we have no choice but to abandon our intention to implement the realignment plan and modified playoff format for next season.

“We believe the union acted unreasonably in violation of the league’s rights. We intend to evaluate all of our available legal options and to pursue adequate remedies, as appropriate.”

The NHLPA returned fire with its own press release written by Donald Fehr which outlines the players association’s concerns on “more onerous travel” and “the disparity in chances of making the playoffs between the smaller and larger divisions.”

Fehr says that the NHLPA tried to engage in conversation with the league about scheduling conditions to cut back on back-to-back games, long road trips and border crossings. But according to Fehr, the league had no interest in such discussion.

“The League set a deadline of January 6, 2012 for the NHLPA to provide its consent to the NHL’s proposal,” said Fehr. “Players’ questions about travel and concerns about the playoff format have not been sufficiently addressed; as such, we are not able to provide our consent to the proposal at this time. We continue to be ready and willing to have further discussions should the League be willing to do so.”

Sure, this could just be about travel, or it could be about the fact that the current CBA is about to expire and the NHLPA wanted to take an early stance with this issue. That war won’t officially start for a little while, but this appears to be the first battle.

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