Posts tagged “Realignment”

On the NHLPA’s First Toss

Ken Campbell makes a good case for why the NHLPA handled realignment the way it did. My hackles continue to go down.

Also, this line caught my eye:

The players know they will never win the public relations war in this negotiation, that they’ll always be perceived as pampered millionaires who are getting rich playing a game most hockey fans think they would play for free.

(my emphasis)

In the coming months, whenever you start to think that the players are just a bunch of whiny millionaires, remember this: the owners are billionaires. A billion is a thousand million. Your richest, most pampered player is worth 1,000+ times less than their team’s owner. Whether it’s millionaires or billionaires, at that kind of financial distance from your average fan, it can be hard to relate, but there is a difference.

The NHL has a lot of PR skill that the union doesn’t, but it’s always going to be billionaires acting like they’re being victimized by millionaires. Millionaires, by the way, who do the work of the game and for whom it is their livelihood as opposed to a hobby.

And, I guess with that, I’m fully back in the PA camp.

Mirtle on the NHLPA’s Realignment PR Hit

The more details that come out, the worse the NHL looks, and the less annoyed I become with the PA.

There’s increasing evidence that the League’s been uncooperative throughout the process, even if Daly’s claim that they involved the PA back in October is true. The union’s wild card proposal, cited in James’ piece, is a perfect example of a reasonable alteration to the plan that the League reportedly shot down out of hand. And the NHL didn’t do a good job of selling their proposal if their own data really does indicate teams like San Jose and Winnepeg would face worse travel.

This whole thing’s been handled frustratingly bad by both sides, and the scales are fast evening up from my initial reaction putting the bulk of the blame on the PA.

There’s one other development in my thinking from the additional reporting on this over the past day: I’m less optimistic than ever that the CBA negotiations are going to go smoothly. Ugh.

A Fair Take on the Realignment Plan Process Failures

The Sporting News‘ Jesse Spector (@jessespector) details the failures of both sides in this debacle. It’s a good read, though my inner pessimist finds his closing lines to be a little too optimistic. I doubt anyone on either side will learn anything other than to be more hardline, but maybe that’s just me.

Even granting the NHL’s real failures in the handling of this, I still can’t come away thinking the PA doesn’t hold a majority, however narrow, of the blame. They rejected a reasonable plan on on the basis of fixable problems, and as Spector points out, did it after much of the membership said it sounded like a good plan. If nothing else, it’s a lesson in their disorganization, which perhaps doesn’t bode well for their chances in CBA negotiations.

Anyway, there are more details about the story I’d love to know. I would, for example, like to know how soon the PA asked for a mock schedule once the plan had been punted to them.

More Realignment Rejection Reactions from the Red Wings

Update (5:46 PM): Chuck Pleiness has actual quotes, from Dan Cleary, Nick Lidstrom, Ian White and Nik Kronwall, as well as Mike Babcock and Ken Holland. – Matt

Well, I guess that’s encouraging, Kronwall’s reported reaction notwithstanding.

Also:

With the NHL closing the door on the plan for 2012-13 because of the realities of getting a schedule in place, I’d say the clock has already struck midnight.

Maybe with the CBA expiring and the possibility/likelihood of another season-wiping lockout looming, the PA can say realignment will happen “next season,” meaning 2013-14, but that’s about the best they can say now.

Kronwall On Realignment Rejection

Good to know where you stand, Nik.

Also: you’re part of the Detroit Red Wings. I don’t think being in an 8-team conference was going to be a problem for you in terms of playoff hopes. Do you like going west four times in the regular season and for up to three playoff series?

Ugh.

NHLPA Rejects NHL’s Realignment Plan

The players had until yesterday to accept or reject the NHL’s plan. They went for the latter, on the following basis, per their executive director’s statement:

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.

As a result, realignment will not happen for at least another season. So, basically, the players are throwing Winnepeg and the Southeast Division under the bus for 2012-13. Thinking of the good of the many at the expense of the fewer, even if that expense is as high as flying across half the continent for a divisional game.

I have to admit this really makes me angry. I’m usually an NHLPA partisan in just about everything, but on this, I’m completely with the NHL and the individual organizations. There was uncommon unity on this issue on the Board of Governors, where only four teams voted against this plan. Even if more teams were uneasy about it, just four of 30 explicitly said “no.” That’s big. And the NHLPA going all Washington, DC on the BoG (“You’re for that? Then I’m against it.”) is not going to help things going forward.

This was not the issue to roll out the big hardline stance guns on, Don Fehr. Olympic participation? Guaranteed contracts? Long term contracts? All of those legitimate. Bringing the League’s structure into the 21st Century in a way that levels the playing field across the board? Not so much.

It’s going to elevate the antagonism between the sides, as the NHL’s statement on the news suggests. Possible legal action? Oh joy. At first glance, the League doesn’t seem to be off base: why wouldn’t it be the owner’s prerogative to settle this question?

There’s a ton of separation between the PA and League on a lot of issues, but this is one that should involve a lot less space. Individual organizations are thrilled and at that level, team interests and player interests can’t be that far off. Right? In a relationship that makes sense, I guess. But this is ridiculous.

Later in the statement, Fehr says,

“The travel estimation data we received from the League indicates that many of the current Pacific and Central teams, that have demanding travel schedules under the current format, could see their travel become even more difficult.”

This is some rancid bull. Anyone who can read a map and the NHL’s plan in conjunction knows the real reason behind this element of the objection is current Eastern Conference players. I would be stunned at the stupidity of a Central Division player complaining about having to go West half as much as they used to, for example. This is the PA ironically in sync with the four teams who voted against the plan, widely believed to be Eastern teams.

Then there’s the 7/8 disparity. Yeah, that’s a problem. But the PA should be looking at it this way: a two-team shortfall is an excuse for the NHL to expand, which means two more teams providing more PA jobs and increased membership. Sure they don’t get any of the expansion fee, but this is where the fabled long view comes into play. I know hardly anyone uses it, but this would have been a good opportunity to bust that out.

I’m incredibly disappointed by this. For one thing, it’s a PR win for the League on an issue that should have been a slam dunk for everyone. Instead, the NHL comes off as the reasonable side, because, well, in this case it is. Realignment makes sense in a world where Winnepeg is in the Southeast of anything but Manitoba. And that plan had a lot going for it. Neither of the PA’s reasons in and of themselves constitute grounds for shooting it down, it seems to me. But the PA’s always sucked at the PR side of this relationship. Witness how many people still call the Lockout a strike.

Anyway, I was very much looking forward to next season and particularly the playoffs, with that format promising to be, frankly, awesome. Now who knows what kind of realignment we’ll get. If the legal avenues for the League don’t pan out and they’re forced to dialog with the PA on this, we could very well end up with some kind of pedestrian 1-for-1 replacement of Winnepeg with another team, with the status quo on the playoffs (though a swap is not something the NHL would go for). How exciting.

Wyshynski has more on the mechanics of this move by the PA. The aggrieved party being left out of the planning process stuff annoys me even more. I’m not entirely sure I see a place for the players in the planning of realignment, per se.