Realignment Woes Grow

As most everyone has heard by now the NHLPA failed to approve the league's realignment plan by the set deadline. This lack of movement was essentially the Players' Association rejecting the realignment plan without actually rejecting it. It was a clever bit of maneuvering on the part of someone or someone else to do something that pretty much just pisses everyone off in one way or another.

A number of quality blogs have done a great job poking holes in the NHLPA's statement about why a plan popular amongst the league, owners, and fans (except, probably Florida and Tampa) would be unceremoniously rejected. The travel complaints from the NHLPA have been a target from the media, and with good reason, the claims are overall pretty silly in the face of the efforts of the league to add parity to travel schedules across the league, except for Florida and Tampa. But the area in which I'm more interested is that the Players' Association was given no say during the formative period of the new league structure. Just today Travis Hughes of SBNation and Broad Street Hockey reported that Flyers player rep Braydon Coburn said that the unbalanced conferences structure was the primary area of concern for the NHLPA. While this concern is certainly notable, the conference structure is far more agreeable than some of the other setups suggested by the owners and the league.

In fact, here at Puck and Punk I have secured a glimpse at some of the realignment proposals from the various owners and general managers around the league that were culled before the final realignment proposals were determined.

First we have the proposal from owner Mike Illitch:

Now, an interesting note about this particular alignment is that Detroit would end up playing only the 41 home games on the schedule. The other 41 games would consist of intra-squad play. Illitch also notes Conference B's schedule "could be picked at pretty much random" and that "the top ten... eight... whatever can just vie for the last spot."The winning team from Conference B will have the option of playing their Stanley Cup games in either Joe Louis Arena or Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids.

The next setup was presented by Mark Chipman on behalf of the Canadian team owners.

The season and playoff structure is pretty easy to interpret from the graphic. For example The Montreal Canadiens would play each Conference A team eight times (4 home, 4 away), each Conference B six times, and each Conference C team once at home, typically around the holidays. The Stanley Cup Playoffs would involve the top five teams from Conferences A and B. This particular realignment structure is popular in Canadian primarily since it allows for American teams to be easily relocated to Canada in pairs.

This third (and final) realignment was submitted by one Mark Lazarus. Now, Lazarus doesn't seem to work for any NHL teams, so I think we can assume that he's an ambitious employee at the league's head office in New York City. Let's take a look

I didn't receive any of the notation that was attached to this particular proposal so I can only speculate as to the schedule and playoff structure. I assume that each team will play another as much as possible with the Flex Game Conference teams used to ensure that all the teams in the NBC Sports and CBC/TSN Conferences play an equal number of games. Playoffs would likely resemble something almost identical to what fans enjoy in the current NHL.

As we can see the owners and the league offices really presented the NHLPA with the best realignment scenario that they possibly could. It can also be seen that the owners certainly did have travel in mind with several of those schedules. I'm certain that we'd all find it very interesting to take a look at some of the realignment plans from the players and their representation at the Players' Association. Who knows, maybe I'll be able to dig up some of their plans through my research and insider league sources.

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