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LeBrun: League, NHLPA back at work on realignment

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TSN.ca Staff
2/13/2013 6:29:37 PM
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After a failed attempt just over a year ago, the NHL appears to once again be headed towards realignment.

TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com reported that both the League and the Players' Association have been working towards a realignment plan over the past two weeks, including a meeting on Tuesday in Toronto.

Both sides have been working on a quick resolution in order to get a plan in place before the 2013-14 schedule is drawn up.

"We've been exchanging information and we're trying to get to a resolution as soon as possible," deputy commissioner Bill Daly told LeBrun on Tuesday.

If discussions stay on track, both sides could meet again next week. According to LeBrun, that could set the table for an owners' vote of approval the week of Feb. 25 with an NHLPA executive vote involving the 30 player representatives also planned.

In terms of the realignment plan, details have yet to be released in terms of how it would differ from the one the Board of Governors approved in December 2011.

That plan saw four conferences drawn up, instead of the current system of two conferences with three divisions apiece.

The proposed conferences were as follows:

Conference A: Anaheim, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver.

Conference B: Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, Winnipeg.

Conference C: Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto.

Conference D: Carolina, New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington.

The PA voted down this proposal on Jan. 6 citing the possibility for imbalanced travel between the conferences as well as a disparity in playoff chances between the seven-team and eight-team conferences.

According to LeBrun, a change may be in the works to the proposed system of four playoff teams per conference in efforts to appease those dissatisfied with the previous proposal.

The team-by-team composition of the new realignment plan is not yet known but the Winnipeg Jets are one of the teams most awaiting realignment.

Still playing in the Southeast Division in place of their predecessors from Atlanta, the Jets and their fans would welcome a move to a Western-based division or conference to cut down on travel and draw on potential regional rivals.

"It's our hope obviously that we get out of the Southeast Division and we end up in something along the lines that we agreed to [in December 2011]," Jets chairman and governor Mark Chipman told LeBrun on Tuesday. "But I'm not aware of what, if any changes, are being contemplated."

Olympic meetings are also scheduled for Thursday and Friday in New York with the International Olympic Committee and International Ice Hockey Federation, giving both the League and the PA added incentive to resolve the realignment issue so they can fit Olympic participation into the 2013-14 schedule.

This matter depends on all parties agreeing to terms for NHL players to participate in the Sochi Olympics.

Jets celebrate (Photo: Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)
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