Chimera: Players want their opinions heard in realignment talks

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On Friday, the New York Post reported that the NHL and NHLPA would this week be discussing realignment for the 2013-14 season.

Today, Capitals player rep Jason Chimera underscored the importance of the league and union working together to find the best solution to a fairly complex issue.

“That’s all you ever want. As a player, when you play hockey you want a voice, you want to, you know, voice your opinions,” Chimera said, per the Washington Post.

“They realigned everything without our consent, so that was the biggest thing. I think it’s supposed to be a partnership and you want to have some say in some things and they just kind of threw it at us and said, ‘Here it is.’ And we didn’t have no say in it, so I think they’re working together on it now, which is good, and I think – you know, everything, like you said, this game we should be building things together now.”

The NHL announced its “radical” realignment plan in December of 2011. The union, however, withheld its consent of the changes, citing concerns over travel as well as the fairness of the proposed playoff qualification system.

A looming labor battle also likely played a role in the union’s choice to block the league’s unilateral decision to split the NHL into four “conferences.”

How the two sides plan to address the fairness issue is unclear. Under the NHL’s plan, the top four teams in each conference would make the postseason. The problem is, two conferences have eight teams and the other two only have seven.

“We expect to talk with the league on the subject this week,” NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr told the Post. “A year ago, when we raised the issue of increased travel for teams, the league did not have mock schedules for us to review that might have alleviated our concern.

“And we had an issue with the fact that teams would either have a mathematical advantage or disadvantage of qualifying for the playoffs depending upon whether they’d be in a seven-team or eight-team conference.”

The four proposed conferences are as follows:

—- New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Washington and Carolina

—- Boston, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Buffalo, Florida and Tampa Bay

—- Detroit, Columbus, Nashville, St. Louis, Chicago, Minnesota, Dallas and Winnipeg

—- Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Colorado