Commissioner Gary Bettman (Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLPA Blocks Realignment Proposal As CBA Talks Loom

It happened several days ago but still worth noting that the NHL Players Association, spearheaded now by former MLBPA chief Donald Fehr, rejected the league’s proposed realignment plan for the 2012-2013 season that would see a dramatic change to the NHL landscape. The NHL Board of Governors had widespread agreement on a plan that would see the NHL transform back into four separate “conferences” within geographic proximity and promoting more out-of-conference match ups, but the NHLPA rejected to consent Friday after several weeks of negotiations.

What does this mean for the NHL? Find out after the jump. 

The most immediate impact of this news is that, with the rejection announced when it was, it prevents the realignment from happening next season, meaning Winnipeg will be staying in the Southeast division rather than in the Central division, where they belong.

The biggest gripe the players have with the realignment proposal, aside for the increase in travel, is the level of equality the new conferences would have. Under the realignment, two conferences would have eight teams and two would have seven. One of the conferences would have Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, both New York teams, New Jersey, Washington, and Carolina. That might be the toughest assembly of competition to play against to make the playoffs in recorded sports history if you’re the Islanders or Hurricanes.

The Rangers own Brandon Dubinsky chimed in with his thoughts of why the players rejected the new realignment to the NY Daily News:

Teams in the West were unhappy because they felt they had the poorest chance of making the playoffs, and absolutely mathematically there was, versus us out here in the East. There’s teams in our (proposed) conference that were upset … We felt like our conference was stronger than another team’s conference, and it shouldn’t be fair that Washington, us, Jersey, Pittsburgh and Philly are all in the same division. Only one of us has the opportunity to get to the conference finals?”

If you recall, the Rangers were one of the teams who voted AGAINST the realignment proposal.

All of this comes back to the PA believing it should be a part of the process which, under the current CBA, they’re not. They strategically denied the proposal when they did to prevent it being implemented next season and before a new CBA is agreed upon. For those wondering, the current CBA expires September 12, 2012. With realignment being denied – when it was almost a foregone conclusion it would pass – it all points to more unrest and tension for the next set of CBA negotiations.

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Tags: Brandon Dubinsky CBA Donald Fehr Gary Bettman NHL NHL Realignment NHLPA

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