The National Hockey League announced that it will not move forward with implementation of the Realignment Plan and modified Playoff Format recently approved by the NHL Board of Governors for the 2012-13 NHL Season because the NHLPA has refused to provide its consent.
The radical realignment plan, approved by the NHL Board of Governors on December 5th, would have eliminated the current two-conference, six-division setup in favour of a configuration that features four conferences based primarily on geography. Two conferences would have had eight teams, and the other two conferences would have had seven teams.
The realignment plan would have had the Winnipeg Jets play in an eight-team conference with Detroit, Columbus, Nashville, St. Louis, Chicago, Minnesota and Dallas, all cities in the Central Time Zone.
Mark Chipman Reacts
Mark Chipman reacts to the NHLPA denying their consent for the proposed NHL Realignment Plan. WATCH NOW ›
“It is unfortunate that the NHLPA has 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,” said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. “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.”
The Realignment Plan was necessary due to the fact that Winnipeg had to move out of the Eastern Conference after playing in the Southeast Division this season due to the late relocation of the franchise from Atlanta to the Manitoba capital.
The NHLPA has cited concerns about a higher travel burden for some teams, and an unfair playoff format with the proposed Realignment.
“I was surprised by it,” said Winnipeg Jets Governor Mark Chipman. “Coming out of the meetings in December we felt really good about what had been decided, and thought that was the way things were going to unfold, so I was really surprised yesterday to find out that we’re not going to be able to proceed for next year.”
With the proposed realignment plan blocked by the NHLPA, the current NHL alignment and playoff format will be kept for the 2012-13 season.
“Scheduling is so critical, and establishing priority dates and getting the schedule built as early as possible is vital to this League, so there just isn’t time to explore any other remedies the League might have,” said Chipman.
“We’re only as good as we are collectively in operating this business. I don’t think taking another year in the Southeast is that burdensome for us, if it allows the League the opportunity to create something that is better for all of us. I don’t know if it’s that big a sacrifice for a year.”
The Winnipeg Jets will continue to play in the Southeast Division for the 2012-13 season, alongside Florida, Tampa Bay, Washington and Carolina.
“Because we’re not walking into an already determined schedule, the League will be very fair and very accommodating to us for next year.”