While the players shot down the recent proposal, can the NHL get it's conference realignment in a new CBA? If so, who would it benefit, and who would it hurt the most? Let's take a look at why the NHL wanted it in the first place.
If you took a look at a map of North America, put a pin
on each location where there’s an NHL franchise and then guessed whether each
team is in the Eastern or Western Conference, there might be a few surprises.
For example: the Detroit Red Wings, who are just a few hours’ drive away from
Toronto, are in the Western Conference. That means they have to travel all the
way across the country to face teams like San Jose, Colorado, Dallas and
Vancouver more often than they would surely like. Also, there are some weird
issues with divisions where the Dallas Stars play in a division with four other
teams that are in the West Coast time zone, which means tons of travel and
time shifting for them.
We always hear of the wear travel has on teams, but it must be noted that this year's champions, the Lost Angeles Kings, were quite comfortable on the road. Is the travel the issue here, or does the NHL have other things in mind?
So while the NHL came up with a new alignment, which
included four conferences – two with seven-team conferences and two with
eight-team conferences – with the top four teams in each making the playoffs. Here’s
how it could have looked:
The only problem is that the players didn’t agree and
we’re still stuck with the old format.
The players, who are led by Donald Fehr, didn’t give
their seal of approval because they have concerns about the player travel and
the new playoff system. In regards to travel, the players are concerned about
more back-to-back situations that the league had planned, lengthier road trips
and number of border crossings. In regards to the playoff system, there is some
clamoring among players – and fans too – that by shifting the teams around,
some historical rivalries could be hampered.
The main issue here is that the league tried to get this
done without the consent of the players, and while they’ve definitely had the
power throughout the during of this entire Collective Bargaining Agreement,
it’s coming to an end this offseason and the players want to make sure that
they’re heard. At the end of the day, this is probably not a very big issue for
the players, but Fehr wants to show that they are not going to roll over for any
issue – big or small.
In the last CBA, the league got everything they wanted and
that was mostly because the league was in bad shape financially. Since then,
the league has grown in popularity and revenue, and now the players want a
bigger piece of the pie. That’s the main issue that we’ll be talking about and
reading about this offseason: how can everyone be happy with how much money
Don’t expect this negotiation to keep the game on ice,
though, like it did during the standoff of 2004-05. With parity at an all-time high,
excitement back in the sport and plenty of momentum, these two sides should
find a way to keep things moving by agreeing upon a new CBA this offseason.