NHL Players Explain Decision To Shoot Down Proposed Realignment Plan
The decision by the NHLPA to vote down the realignment plan proposed by the NHL that would have gone into effect for the '12-13 season drew various responses from NHL players. Maple Leafs LW and player rep David Steckel said Saturday that the NHLPA's rejection of the plan "shouldn't be viewed with doom and gloom." Steckel said, "We asked for more information so we can make an informed decision on what we’re getting ourselves into, and for whatever reason (the NHL) couldn’t provide those details to us." Red Wings D and player rep Niklas Kronwall said that the players "'overwhelmingly' disagreed with several key parts of the plan during a conference call on Jan. 1." He added, "Most guys overwhelmingly feel that there is a big disadvantage being in a division with eight teams compared to a division with seven teams. The other concern is that we really don’t know what the travel would be like. Would there be longer road trips or more back-to-back games?” (TORONTO STAR, 1/8). Jets D and player rep Ron Hainsey said that "travel for western teams and Winnipeg could potentially be worse with the new plan." Hainsey: "It's obviously hard to come up with a full schedule on a month's notice. Without knowing what that looked like, it's hard to consent or not consent when the potential is there for worse travel. ... We didn't block it. We asked to continue to meet. That's not blocking" (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 1/8). In St. Louis, Jeremy Rutherford noted the realignment plan would "take the two current 15-team conferences and divide them into two eight-team conferences and two seven-team conferences." Blues RW and player rep B.J. Crombeen said, "Every team wants to be in the playoffs. Trying to find a way to make it fair for everyone is a big concern of the players and something we want to get sorted out" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/8). Stars C and player rep Adam Burish: "Those Eastern teams, they had only seven in their group and the Western teams had eight. That’s a big deal. Four out of seven is a big difference than four out of eight. Imagine in the West as it is now if nine teams got to go instead of eight" (ESPNDALLAS.com, 1/7). Senators G and player rep Alex Auld: "It wasn't an even playing field as far as every player having the same chance of making the playoffs. That's a big thing that a lot of the players expressed concern with" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 1/8). Coyotes G and player rep Jason LaBarbera said the NHL "always said it's a partnership, a two-way street." LaBarbera: "You always have to be open for discussions for everything, and in this instance it was a one-sided kind of deal, and the league felt like they could just go and do what they wanted" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 1/8).
NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT? Red Wings D Nicklas Lidstrom said, "Things can still be done. They can still talk about it. They can sit down and come to a solution about it. I think it's just a matter of meeting with each other and going over all of the information" (DETROIT NEWS, 1/7). Penguins G Brent Johnson said, "It doesn't shock me that we didn't agree to it right away. I'm sure they just have to look at some things. A lot of guys want the whole realignment. I think the majority does. We just want to look at all angles" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 1/8). Lightning C and player rep Dominic Moore believes that the realignment issue "will eventually be resolved." Moore: "There's solutions out there. It's not going to be a big problem. It's just a matter of ... going through these issues and analyzing some of the information that we can come up with" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 1/8). Blackhawks D and player rep John Scott: "Realignment will happen. We just have to be part of the negotiations and go from there" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/9).