The NHLs realignment plan that was to be implemented next season will not be happening.
In Friday afternoon league press release, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said:
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. We have now spent the better part of four weeks attempting to satisfy the NHLPAs 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 seasons schedule, we have no choice but to abandon our intention to implement the Realignment Plan and modified Playoff Format for next season.We believe the Union acted unreasonably in violation of the Leagues rights. We intend to evaluate all of our available legal options and to pursue adequate remedies, as appropriate.
According to reports, the NHLPA was concerned over increased travel and a new playoff structure. The plan was approved by the NHL's Board of Governors during its annual meetings on Dec. 5.
NBC's ProHockeyTalk.com writes:
The union was willing to keep discussing the issues, but the NHL set a deadline of today for schedule-making purposes. When the deadline arrived and there were still unresolved issues, the union withheld its consent.
The plan could still be implemented down the line, but the schedule format will remain unchanged for 2012-13. The Sharks were scheduled to move into a conference with Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Phoenix, Colorado, Anaheim and Los Angeles as part of a four-conference realignment plan.
The move could also be viewed as the first major development in the upcoming labor negotiations, as the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement expires on September 15, 2012.