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NHL realignment will not take place in 2012-13 after union disapproves

- The Washington Times - Friday, January 6, 2012

SAN JOSE, Calif. — It appears a Patrick Division reunion will have to wait at least another year.

The NHL announced Friday evening that radical realignment that would have put the Washington Capitals in a "conference" with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers, New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes will not go into effect for 2012-13 because the NHL Players' Association did not approve.

The NHL's board of governors officially agreed to the plan in December, and the league set Friday as the deadline for NHLPA approval because schedule makers needed to start working on next season.

Because the players did not consent, it means the current six-division, Eastern and Western Conference format will remain in place.

"It is unfortunate that the NHLPA has unreasonably 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," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement.

"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."

For the Caps, it means another year in the Southeast Division and six games apiece against the Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets. It also means waiting to rekindle closer rivalries with the Flyers and Penguins.

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