SUNRISE, Fla. | The way the news trickled out of the NHL Board of Governors meeting in Pebble Beach, Calif., everyone figured radical realignment was a done deal.
Four conferences. Heavy rivalry play. Home-and-home series with everyone else. Commissioner Gary Bettman announced it as a done deal, which it essentially is.
Next season will feature a whole new look, like the Capitals back with old Patrick Division foes the Rangers, Penguins, Flyers, Devils and Islanders, as well as the Hurricanes.
But is it a done deal? While most players who spoke out had positive things to say, the NHL Players’ Association doesn’t seem to consider this a closed case.
“Realignment requires an agreement between the league and the NHLPA,” NHLPA director of communicationsJonathan Weatherdon said. “We look forward to continuing our discussions with the league regarding this matter.”
Will this derail realignment for the 2012-13 season? Not likely. But Larry Brooks of the New York Post reported earlier this week that the NHLPA wasn’t thrilled with the idea of it being harder on guys in eight-team conferences to make the playoffs. From an organizational perspective, it seems those Western Conference teams sacrificed that aspect for less travel.
Bettman said he doesn’t believe the players need to be officially consulted on the matter to make it happen, though he told reporters in California he would speak with union head Donald Fehr about the matter.