NHL hopeful for peaceful labor talks with NHLPA

DAN GELSTON AP Sports Writer Published:

The realignment proposal seemed like it would be rubber-stamped. Shuffle some teams around, create some new conferences, make sure each team made a visit to each NHL city. Sounded promising.

In a surprise move, the players' association balked. They said there wasn't enough time to consider the issue. There were concerns about travel, a potential competitive disadvantage, and even talk of wanting an expanded postseason.

Radical realignment was tabled and the 2012-13 season will start with teams locked in to the same divisions and conferences as this season. It doesn't mean a new-look NHL won't happen, it just won't happen next year.

But around the league, the question lingered: Did the players have legitimate concerns about a realignment plan proposed with minimal input from the NHLPA, or was the veto the first step in a negotiating ploy with the NHL's Collective Bargaining Agreement set to expire after a seven-year run?