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NHLPA Approves League's Realignment Plan; Will Be Up For Re-Evaluation Following '14-15
Published March 8, 2013
BENEFICIAL MOVE FOR SEVERAL TEAMS: The Stars will be placed in the Midwest Division, and team President & CEO Jim Lites said the move is "one of the best things that can happen to us." Lites: "From a competition standpoint, from a cost standpoint, from a player health standpoint, but mostly from the standpoint that this is so much better for our fans." In Dallas, Mike Heika notes the Stars joined the Pacific Division in '98, and the team has "had some great rivalries with the Sharks, Ducks and Kings." However, many of those games "ended in exciting overtime or shootout games past midnight for local viewers." Lites: "It just kills the television ratings, but it’s more than that. A lot of our fans missed some of the most important games in our history." Heika notes this format "pretty much assures" that the Stars will play in the Central time zone "for many years going forward." That is something that "can be added to the list of good things that have happened for Stars fans in the last two years" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/8). Meanwhile, Blue Jackets President of Hockey Operations John Davidson said of the team's impending move out of the Western Conference, "This just makes common sense." He added, "This is the right thing for our group (of fans) who come to our games, because it’s more of the teams they really want to see." Blue Jackets President Mike Priest: "This is a reward for our fans in many regards. This is a win for our market and our fan base" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 3/8).
PICK YOUR BATTLES: ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun wrote while there were "still reservations among player membership regarding the unbalanced 16/14 split in conferences, it wasn’t worth the fight it would have become." Had the NHLPA "pushed, the league could have had the matter resolved through a systems arbitrator whose decision would have been binding." However, NHL owners "still haven’t consented to participating in the Sochi Olympics next February," and it was "perhaps not worth poking the bear on realignment if your players desperately want to go to Sochi" (ESPN.com, 3/7).