SAN JOSE Sharks forward Joe Pavelski, the teams NHLPA player representative, spoke on Saturday morning about the unions decision not to accept the NHLs realignment plan that was approved by the NHL's Board of Governors on Dec. 5.
That doesnt mean the plan is dead in the water, though.
There are definitely certain parts that are positives that will happen, I would assume, in the future, obviously, with Atlanta going to Winnipeg, Pavelski said. Something will probably still happen in the future, but for right now some details still have to be worked out.
In a statement released by the NHLPA, union head Donald Fehr wrote:
Two substantial Player concerns emerged: (1) whether the new structure would result in increased and more onerous travel; and (2) the disparity in chances of making the playoffs between the smaller and larger divisions.
The Sharks would have been in one of two eight-team conferences, while the other conferences had seven teams apiece. The top four teams in each conference would make the postseason.
I think playoffs was big. Thats why we play the game. Its one of those things where you want to play in the playoffs. Theres definitely an advantage from four to seven than four to eight, Pavelski said.
Many view the unions decision to reject the plan as the first bargaining chip for the NHLPA in what could be a labor battle in the coming months, as the collective bargaining agreement is set to expire on Sep. 15, 2012. If thats the case, Pavelski wasnt letting on.
I think its just a situation. Something that happened that was talked about. I dont think theres any other messages besides that, just something that didnt work this time, he said.
When the vote was taken in December, 26 NHL teams voted in favor of the plan to realign the 30-team league into four conferences and have each team play each other at least twice. The Sharks, who were set to play in a division with Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix, Colorado, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary, were one of them.
General manager Doug Wilson said: We supported it. Obviously, when we talked about it, it was something I thought would be great for the fans. We voiced our opinion on what we thought would be best for our organization.
Well see where it goes. We voted on our position, and we did what we think would be great for our fans and great for the game. Once we presented that, it goes into different hands and gets dealt with at a different area in the process.
Dan Boyle, who endured the NHLs lost season of 2004-05, didnt seem too concerned about the realignment issue.
I just want to make sure we play hockey next year, Boyle said. First and foremost, thats the most important thing. Realignment is secondary to that.