Players Reject NHL Realignment: A Mighty Media Roundup

You’ve heard by now that the NHL won’t be shuffling its divisional deck next year because the players’ union won’t accept the changes the league proposed last fall: four conferences, two with seven teams and two with eight, and teams moved around–The Winnipeg Jets, for instance, were to be slotted into a conference with Detroit, Minnesota, Chicago and (YAY!) the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Obviously, this sucks for Winnipeg fans. Then again, it also means the Jets will get more games against the Leafs, Canadians, Senators, Washington Ovechkins and (if his head ever gets better) Pittsburgh Crosbies.

Okay, maybe it doesn’t suck for Winnipeg fans.

One thought: gee, maybe next time the NHL does something like this, players should be involved from the outset. I mean, come on–this stuff looks petty and amateur, and it shouldn’t happen in a pro league.

Actually, the journalistic consensus seems to be that  the NHL set  the players up to look like bad guys by daring them to squash a popular-with-fans league realignment. After all, the NHL and the NHLPA need to draft a new agreement soon, and a little political maneuvering to turn public opinion against players before negotiating gets going (and inevitably turns nasty) won’t hurt the owners’ case.

I’ll put some links to more coverage of this story after the jump for all you hockey nerds.


So here’ the story in The Globe And Mail:

According to players’ association sources, the two primary objections to the realignment plan involved travel – and the possible increases in wear and tear on players under a schedule that they hadn’t seen yet – and the fairness question. Under the new configuration, two of the four conferences would feature eight teams and the two others would include just seven. Since the top four teams in all four conferences would qualify for postseason play, it made it easier, on a percentage basis, for clubs in the seven-team conferences to make the playoffs.

The Globe story also points out that this spat might have something to do with upcoming labour negotiations.

Here’s the view from Winnipeg in the Free Press:

[Winnipeg Jets governor Mark Chipman] said the league said it will make every attempt to make Winnipeg’s schedule for 2012-13 — if there is hockey (the current CBA between the NHL and NHLPA expires after this season) — a little more palatable in terms of travel. The Jets and the league had little time to get a schedule together after True North purchased the Atlanta Thrashers in May, making for a schedule that has lengthy stretches of road and home stands. Chipman wouldn’t speculate on whether the NHLPA’s dismissal of the re-alignment was a sign that a contentious labour dispute was on the horizon for the league.

Yeah, I see a theme developing.

Here’s the tale from Columbus–which is kinda screwed by this development–in the virtual pages of The Columbus Dispatch (shut up, I’m a Blue Jackets fan and I like the Dispatch’s writers):

“We are disappointed by today’s developments as the realignment plan approved by the Board of Governors is one that we believe best serves our fans,” Blue Jackets president Mike Priest said. “For our organization, there were advantages with this plan that with its delay will be detrimental to our business. We are hopeful it will be implemented eventually.”

The plan would have placed the Blue Jackets in an eight-team conference with Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg. It would have changed the scheduling matrix to one in which all 30 teams play a home-and-home with one another, and fill out the rest of the 82-game schedule with games within their eight- or seven-team conferences. The Blue Jackets’ road trips of more than one time zone away would have been cut in half, allowing fans in Columbus to watch more road games on TV at a more reasonable hour.

Finally, here’s the great Puck Daddy, a.k.a. Greg Wyshynski,  from Yahoo, who also frames this as labour-management snarling.

So why did the NHLPA refuse to endorse this plan, besides a clear disregard for the league’s rights (OK then)? Simple: They felt realignment was unfair and inconsiderate to the players; they weren’t given a chance, in their eyes, to help create it; and it communicated that the NHLPA isn’t going to be shoved around now or during the CBA talks.

You could probably just skip everything else and read this. Puck Daddy’s pretty awesome.

Author: Stephen Whitworth

Prairie Dog editor Stephen Whitworth was carried to Regina in a swarm of bees. He's been with Prairie Dog since May 1999 and will die at his keyboard before admitting his career a terrible, terrible mistake.

37 thoughts on “Players Reject NHL Realignment: A Mighty Media Roundup”

  1. I am troubled by this decision and not just because I’m reflecting on it while drinking malt liquor and eating Crazy Core Skittles. The NHL has a bit of a daffy relationship with realignment.

  2. The Rangers have the best record in the league at the moment. This doesn’t happen very often, and I refuse to let a childish argument over realignment spoil the mood.
    So there.

  3. However, asinine though it may be, I must admit I find the realignment debate a refreshing change from the topic of head injuries. Concussions are so yesterday.

  4. Speaking of head injuries, this Bengals/Texans match has given a whole new meaning to the term “brain dead.” And there’s still 30 minutes (or more) to go.

  5. Embrace the T.J. Yates era. The current NHL alignment is a bit of a mess. I understand that travel is a legitimate issue (note: I don’t actually, but I want to be friendly about something I don’t understand), but it seems odd that Columbus and Nashville are trapped in this silly geographical alignment purgatory.

  6. When it comes to realignment, longtime Thrashers fan Mike Stipe said it best: “Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives, and I decline.”
    Is T.J. any relation to Dan? If he’s not, he should be.

  7. My final thoughts on realignment, for now: This is precisely why Gary Bettman DID NOT want a team in Winnipeg.

  8. Holy. MLB is re-aligning, I think, to 15 AL & 15 NL teams in 2012 or 2013, to give all teams an equal shot (on paper) at the playoffs. Why would hockey insist on 16/14?

  9. NHL wants 16/14 because 15/15 has already been spoken for by MLB. Rumour has it, NFL is considering 19-13.

  10. I believe both Dan and T.J. Yates have been in trouble with the NCAA at some point.

    My God, the Texans/Bengals game has become a slog. I’m looking forward to holding on to my unrealistic expectations for the Saints/Lions game in half an hour.

  11. I’m okay with the MLB’s realignment. My endorsement will serve as exciting news for Bud Selig.

  12. @12 Things haven’t been the same since Milwaukee went National. It’ll be good to have them back.

  13. It really was weird to have Milwaukee moved back in the 90s. In my lifetime, the Brewers have clocked more years in the NL than the AL, but I still know they are an AL club.

  14. Fuck Houston! Houston’s like the Science Fiction team of Major League Baseball. Do they/Don’t they exist? Did Nolan Ryan really rock that caramel tootsie roll polyester uniform? Whatever happened to the Astrodome.

  15. We wrote those simultaneously. I wasn’t yelling at you. Milwaukee is pure AL, Houston is pure NL. Must be geographical. Houston. Jezzus. Houston needs to be retracted. HOuston will never win and no one will ever sign there.

  16. I say, move Baltimore or Toronto, BUT NOT BOTH, to the NL. Yates is killing me with those damn Orioles/Jays lunch bets.


    After Houston fails to lure Miguel Cabrera in 2015, it will finish 21 and 141, and in 2021, will return to the NCO Financial Systems Debt Collection Astrodome and finish 0-162, co-managed by Adam Dunn and a 400-lb player/manager Mike Piazza.

  18. The 2021 Houston Astros will be a primarily developmental team, made up of Dominican A-ball rejects, Adam Dunn, Donald Trump, Kim Kardashian, Travis Fryman, Joel Zumaya, Jaime Moyer, and Captain Morgan, and will be owned by a consortium of steroid-era players, incl, Roger Clemens, Andy Pipette, Barry Bonds, and a purple Sammy Sosa. There will be no rules. Billionaire oil tycoons will roam the outfield in Hummers and the urinals will flush pure vodka. George W. Bush will live in a penthouse suspended directly above centrefield and Fidel Castro will be imprisoned in a plastic bag in the bullpen. It’s gonna be MEN-TAL…

  19. During the 7th inning stretch, they won’t sing God Bless America or Take Me Out to the Ball Game, they’ll have the Astroturf Dancers madly making out with eachother while the ground crew release deer onto the outfield, at which time patrons earn the right to gun down as much game as they wish to the 140dB sounds of Metallica & Ted Nugent (simultaneously). It’s gonna be aww-awwe-AWWWE-haaahsummm. American entertainment in 2021, babies.

  20. I’m with Bob Costas. I’d like to see a 10-minute overtime session in the NFL as opposed to the sudden-death format they use now, which, under the new rules, isn’t really sudden-death anyway.

  21. NFL OT should be based on first to kick a 70-yard field goal. No pressure, just line it up, everyone else stands back and watches. Like a slam dunk contest.

  22. Computers. They don’t like me very much. Repairs are in order. Take care. Talk soon.

  23. This comment page went from NHL to fukkin boreball?? How the can it be a World Series when only 1 country + a Toronto team are involved ? Invite : Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Manitoba…
    then mabye I’ll actually watch a game with some interest.

    Saskatoon, Seattle, Cape Breton or St. John’s, Yellowknife, need NHL teams.

    All teams should have a home / away series vs. every team in the league.

    Mabye a Canadian Division vs a few American divisions. West / Central / East

  24. @ 32 – Boreball, Ron? Do those scenarios I described to you in 2021 Houston sound like “Boreball”? I think not!

    CFL needs teams in the Okanagan, Moncton area, Quebec Citay, and Ottawa. Does that make 12?

  25. The spin offered by CJME’s Drew Remenda, who never met an NHL executive he didn’t like, was that the NHLPA is shrewdly hanging onto a bargaining chip (its approval of realignment) rather than squandering it in return for nothin’

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