Blog Entry

NHLPA blocks new realignment for 2012-13

Posted on: January 6, 2012 7:36 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 11:48 pm
By: Adam Gretz

Remember all of that time we spent on NHL realignment last month, and how different the league was going to look during the 2012-13 season, all the way down to a new playoff format? Well, it's not happening. At least not at the moment.

The NHL announced on Friday evening that league will maintain its current divisional alignment and playoff format for next season because the NHLPA did not approve of the new plan. In case you didn't remember, the league's CBA is up after this season, and it's pretty clear that the players want to use realignment as a bargaining chip for those discussions.

Here's what NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement released by the league:

"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. 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."

This is what the new proposal would have looked like:

Later in the night the NHLPA issued a statement of its own (and it's a long one).

“On the evening of December 5, 2011, the NHL informed the NHLPA that they proposed to put in place a four-conference format beginning with the 2012-13 season. As realignment affects Players’ terms and conditions of employment, the CBA requires the League to obtain the NHLPA’s consent before implementation. Over the last month, we have had several discussions with the League and extensive dialogue with Players, most recently on an Executive Board conference call on January 1. Two substantial Player concerns emerged: (1) whether the new structure would result in increased and more onerous travel; and (2) the disparity in chances of making the playoffs between the smaller and larger divisions.

In order to evaluate the effect on travel of the proposed new structure, we requested a draft or sample 2012-13 schedule, showing travel per team.  We were advised it was not possible for the League to do that. We also suggested reaching an agreement on scheduling conditions to somewhat alleviate Player travel concerns (e.g., the scheduling of more back-to-back games, more difficult and lengthier road trips, number of border crossings, etc.), but the League did not want to enter into such a dialogue.  The travel estimation data we received from the League indicates that many of the current Pacific and Central teams, that have demanding travel schedules under the current format, could see their travel become even more difficult. On the playoff qualification matter, we suggested discussing ways to eliminate the inherent differences in the proposed realignment, but the League was not willing to do so.

The League set a deadline of January 6, 2012 for the NHLPA to provide its consent to the NHL’s proposal.   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.”
This all means that, as of right now, the Winnipeg Jets (previously the Atlanta Thrashers) will remainin the Eastern Conference and the Southeast Division for another season and continue to play the Washington Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthes and Carolina Hurricanes.

It also means that the CBA talks will be loads of fun. And by fun, I mean total chaos.

Previously at Eye On Hockey

NHL Announces realignment to four conferences
Winners and losers of the new alignment

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Since: Sep 25, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 10:50 pm

NHLPA blocks new realignment for 2012-13

You both need new hobbies!

Since: Oct 22, 2007
Posted on: January 10, 2012 4:23 pm

NHLPA blocks new realignment for 2012-13

dcn, we absolutely agree on that and, if they can't learn from the other leagues' labor issues, hopefully they can at least learn from their own. People still remember a whole season being canceled and the NHL suffered big-time as a result. Only in the past few years have they really recovered and another prolonged work stoppage - particularly now, with the current economy/unemployment issues and right after the NFL and NBA sagas, when people's patience for such things is wearing very thin - would put them right back where they were after canceling a season and would be even tougher to recover from.

One other thing I'm sure we agree the end, I just want to watch great hockey (or basketball, football, baseball...) and these labor and money issues, from a fan's perspective, are just annoying distractions from the games I love.

Since: Apr 25, 2008
Posted on: January 10, 2012 2:10 pm

NHLPA blocks new realignment for 2012-13

Hey bizona - You make valid points, so we will just agree to disagree on who should get what.  I just hope that both sides can figure it out so we do not have any work stoppages or delays to the upcoming season.  I think the NHL gained some fans due to the other sports work issues and I would prefer the NHL doesn't make the same mistakes the other leagues made. 

Since: Oct 22, 2007
Posted on: January 10, 2012 1:59 pm

NHLPA blocks new realignment for 2012-13

I don't diagree with anything you wrote, except for the blame you assign to the players. I put it on both sides. As for revenues, I think there should be a 50/50 even split. You're right, there wouldn't be a league without the owners, but you wouldn't have much of a league without the players as well. One may argue that players are replaceable, but the same goes for owners - teams get bought and sold all the time. Also, if the NHL suddenly disappeared today, tomorrow there would be another group of people (both money people and hockey people) putting together a new league. Nothing is forever and just about everything is replaceable.

Personally, I think 50/50 is fair.....the owner still gets a good size chunk and the players get their share, which then, of course, gets split amongst the whole roster. It also recognizes that both sides need each other. That seems pretty reasonable to me.

I understand your frustration with the players unions, but they're just doing their job in advocating for their players. I don't see that in any worse light than the owners trying to limit what they have to pay players. Both sides are just doing what anyone else would do in their respective situations. Owners are just trying to run their business and make it profitable. I get that. However, for me, it's difficult to ignore the fact that an owner has a much longer window of time to own a franchise and make money from it than a player has to play, so it's hard for me to blame players from trying to make as much as they can while they can. As a fan, it sure stinks, but I can't really blame either side more than the other.

Since: Apr 25, 2008
Posted on: January 10, 2012 1:39 pm

NHLPA blocks new realignment for 2012-13

Hey bizona - not trying to turn this into a political discussion, but I am tired of hearing how badly the players in these leagues have it.  Not just the NHL, but all major sports.  True, players risk their well being to play a game for a living and yes, owners take risk to own a team, so in reality, everyone takes risks in their lives.  I guess I put most of the blame on the players b/c I think that the unions are the ones driving costs up for fans who like to attend the games.  I don't think if you cannot afford to go to a game you do not work hard enough, what I am saying is the cost to attend a game is making it impossible for your average joe with a family and kids to afford to go to a game b/c of the demands the unions place on owners regarding player salaries/benefits.  To me the unions feel like the players should be receiving the majority of the income the teams/league makes and I disagree with that.  If the owners did not take a risk to start the team/league, these players would not have the opportunity to play a sport for a living, while making good money.  Now one can argue that the majority of players have a limited window in which to play and make money and they should make as much as they can possibly get, I won't argue that b/c it is a valid point.  Careers can be ended very quickly due to a variety of reasons.  But to say that the unions can dictate weather or not a season is held b/c they want more of the money from "rich" owners stinks of socialistic views (take money from the haves and give to have nots).  That is all I was trying to say.  I would like to see owners and players agree to lower costs and make it more afforable for everyone to go to a game, it is a cool experience, but in reality, the only way that ever happens is if the owners/players alike get so greedy that fans stop spending their money on the product they produce.  The fact that the union blocked the realignment stinks of a powerplay by the unions in an effort to hold the owners/league "hostage" come time for contract negotiations.  The league should be able to realign the teams however they see fit without worrying about the union not liking it, the owners own the league.  I think that in the US, the owner of something should be able to do whatever they want with the thing they own (for the most part, obviously nothing criminal). 

Since: Oct 22, 2007
Posted on: January 10, 2012 12:33 pm

NHLPA blocks new realignment for 2012-13

BTW, I think it's interesting you give all the blame to players for hard-working people being unable to go to games.

First, why no blame for the owners who okay the contracts and write the checks? The truth is, in all the US pro sports leagues, the owners and players have worked together to create whatever situation exists in their respective sports and share credit and blame for the good and bad.

Second, based on everything else you said, I would think your take on that is if someone can't afford to go to a game, they must not be working hard enough. lol

Since: Oct 22, 2007
Posted on: January 10, 2012 12:27 pm

NHLPA blocks new realignment for 2012-13

I just think it's foolish to say "the owners take all the risk." Actually, forget foolish, it's downright stupid.

dcn, you can turn this into a political discussion if you want, but not with me. I'm not saying the players don't make a lot of money or get enough medical attention and I'm not making any comments regarding other professions and what they make. I'm not sitting here imagining what kind of person you may be based on an opinion about hockey and nothing I said has anything to do with socialism (either you need to get a dictionary or that's just your new catch-word for anyone you disagree with about anything).

I'm just saying that if you think the owners take more risks than the players, you're wrong.....unless your only concern is money. That's not my only concern and if that offends you, oh well.

Since: Apr 25, 2008
Posted on: January 10, 2012 9:45 am

NHLPA blocks new realignment for 2012-13

I haven't heard of too many owners who have suffered a head injury or been put in a wheelchair while doing their jobs.
With this thinking, then construction workers and people with similar jobs should be paid the same as athletes or more.  There are many more people with "real" jobs that get killed, injured, paralyzed and those people do not have a dedicated medical team at their job location ready to spring to action should something bad happen.  Nor do they continue to receive medical care after the injury like athletes do.  So basically, your whole post reeks of OWS crap and socialist ideas. 

Since: Apr 25, 2008
Posted on: January 10, 2012 9:40 am

NHLPA blocks new realignment for 2012-13

Why do people keep repeating that BS line? It is particularly absurd for a hockey fan to suggest the owners are the ones who "take all the risk." I haven't heard of too many owners who have suffered a head injury or been put in a wheelchair while doing their jobs.

The owners take all the monetary risk and everything in this world evolves around money.  If you are concerned about your health or being injured, get a 9-5 job, sit behind a desk, answer phones and make a little money.  If you want to make hundreds of thousands of dollars playing a game, there is a health risk involved with that.  The players make a lot of money to play a game for a living, are there risks involved, yes, if you don't want to take those risks, get another job.  Hard working people cannot even afford to go to a sporting event anymore because the players make so much money the ticket prices keep increasing. 
On another note, try borrowing millions of dollars to open a business, then work to repay those loans, there are health risks invovled with that too, mainly stress and heart issues.  Nothing in this world is risk free.  The players, if they manage their money correctly, do very well for themselves. 

Since: Oct 22, 2007
Posted on: January 10, 2012 9:17 am

NHLPA blocks new realignment for 2012-13

the owners of these teams......take all the risk

Why do people keep repeating that BS line? It is particularly absurd for a hockey fan to suggest the owners are the ones who "take all the risk." I haven't heard of too many owners who have suffered a head injury or been put in a wheelchair while doing their jobs.

Writing checks is a lot less dangerous than taking body checks. Owners risk money, but not much more, and for most sports franchise owners, their sports franchises are not their primary source of income. Players risk their bodies, lives and, since they make their living with their bodies, their whole earning potential every time they step onto the ice.

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