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Realignment Plan Dead (For Now)

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Late breaking news from the NHL, as it has been announced that the NHLPA has withheld their consent on the proposed realignment plan.

Per PHT, who got a hold of the press release, here is the statement from Bill Daly:

"It is unfortunate that the NHLPA has unreasonably refused to approve a plan that an overwhelming majority of our clubs voted to support, and that has received such widespread support from our fans and other members of the hockey community, including players," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement. "We have now spent the better part of four weeks attempting to satisfy the NHLPA’s purported concerns with the plan with no success. Because we have already been forced to delay, and as a result are already late in beginning the process of preparing next season’s schedule, we have no choice but to abandon our intention to implement the realignment plan and modified playoff format for next season."

"We believe the union acted unreasonably in violation of the league’s rights. We intend to evaluate all of our available legal options and to pursue adequate remedies, as appropriate."

So, we're back to status quo for next year, as the divisions and conferences will remain the same for at least one more season. There's something else going on next season. What could it be? Oh, that's right: the expiration of the current CBA.

Is this the NHLPA puffing out their chest and declaring war on the NHL in preparation for some very tense negotiations? Were the majority of the players really that upset with the proposed plan? If it was due to some of the players worried about travel and the playoff schedule?

Regardless of the reasons, this does not bode well for the Wings, who are stuck in the same division facing the same travel schedule for at least another year. One can't help but think that Ken Holland and Mike Illitch are not very happy with the current development.

Is this the first volley in a war that could lead to another lockout? Despite the doom and gloom that seems to exist around the interwebz, I say no, because neither the NHLPA nor the NHL is stupid enough to risk losing what few casual fans they have with another lockout. I think that this is simply a negotiating tactic by the PA before they get down to business. They have do something, but the PA is going to try and use this as a way to get something else from the NHL.

The rhetoric has already begun. Strap yourselves in because it's going to be a very interesting ride.

UPDATE: The Red Wings' front office has spoken, and they are none too pleased with the NHLPA's response. From Jimmy Devellano:

I'm disgusted and disappointed but not entirely surprised by that union

Very strong words from the Wings' Senior Vice President. I think it's safe to say that we have now have definitive proof that the Wings were not one of the 4 teams that voted against the realignment plan last month.