When the NHLPA refused to provide consent for the NHL’s proposed new realignment on Friday, it seemed surprising. But players say more discussion is needed before they can give the thumb’s up to it.
The Blackhawks reacted to the news on Sunday, with all agreeing that there was good and bad parts of the realignment, which may not be implemented for the 2012-13 season.
“They made a decision (in December) and made it sound like a done deal and we had no discussion in it,” Blackhawks player representative John Scott said. “We were on a conference call (with Donald Fehr), we discussed options we had and we were unanimous that we can’t accept it at this time.”
The biggest sticking points came down to the conference setups and how they factored into who did or didn’t make the playoffs. With the top four teams in each conference making the postseason, the two seven-team conferences would have a distinct advantage.
“A player wants to be able to make it to the playoffs; that’s a big part of your career. To have a disadvantage by where you get drafted or signed, it’s not something that seems fair,” defenseman Steve Montador said. “(Considering) that and other things, weren’t able to agree on it.”
Viktor Stalberg, who said he’s read the statements from both sides, admitted he wasn’t sure how he felt about realignment when it was first announced.
“It seemed kind of weird,” Stalberg said. “It’s exciting to have a home and home with every team; the fans would appreciate that. But we wanted more info and they didn’t seem to want to provide it for us. Hopefully we can get back to discussing it and figure out something that works for both sides.”
Montador said he doesn’t foresee the realignment issues reflecting on how the new CBA talks will go; the current agreement expires in September.
Will this realignment get done? The players definitely want to talk about it more.
“It’s one of those things where it’s fun to put teams in different conferences and see how it goes. If we were in negotiations and made up a mock schedule to see the actual travel, it would be a lot easier for us to accept,” Scott said. “We can’t do that right now because there are so many unknowns.”