With the NHLPA's rejection, a labor war with the league this summer is expected as the CBA expires after this season.
The Winnipeg Jets, formerly of Atlanta, will remain in the Southeast Division with the Panthers for a second season. If there is a season.
“We weren't given enough information [from the NHL],'' said defenseman Mike Weaver, Florida's union rep.
“How can you make an educated decision without the information? We asked and were upfront with them. We weren't provided anything. They weren't open for discussion. The PA is looking out for us. Travel is an important thing. .-.-. I think we're being fair with them. They don't want to divulge anything to us.''
When asked if Weaver thought this was the first arrow flung in what could be a contentious labor dispute, he said he hoped not. He added that he hoped the NHL and NHLPA can resolve their differences quickly and quietly -- as what happened recently in baseball.
Of course, Donald Fehr -- the new director of the NHLPA -- ran the baseball union back in 1994 and was working on hockey matters when baseball and its union ratified their CBA last month. The new baseball deal keeps the peace through 2016.
And we all remember what happened in 1994, right? Well, fans in Cleveland and Montreal certainly do.
"Lets just be fair with each other,'' Weaver said. "We're all fighting for the same game. Look at baseball; they figured it out. They did it so quiet, you didn't even hear about it in the media. Hopefully we come to a solution soon.''
HERE'S THE COMPLETE STATEMENT FROM DONALD FEHR:
“On the evening of December 5, 2011, the NHL informed the NHLPA that they proposed to put in place a four-conference format beginning with the 2012-13 season. As realignment affects Players’ terms and conditions of employment, the CBA requires the League to obtain the NHLPA’s consent before implementation. Over the last month, we have had several discussions with the League and extensive dialogue with Players, most recently on an Executive Board conference call on January 1. 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. In order to evaluate the effect on travel of the proposed new structure, we requested a draft or sample 2012-13 schedule, showing travel per team.
"We were advised it was not possible for the League to do that. We also suggested reaching an agreement on scheduling conditions to somewhat alleviate Player travel concerns (e.g., the scheduling of more back-to-back games, more difficult and lengthier road trips, number of border crossings, etc.), but the League did not want to enter into such a dialogue.
"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. On the playoff qualification matter, we suggested discussing ways to eliminate the inherent differences in the proposed realignment, but the League was not willing to do so.
"The League set a deadline of January 6, 2012 for the NHLPA to provide its consent to the NHL’s proposal. Players’ questions about travel and concerns about the playoff format have not been sufficiently addressed; as such, we are not able to provide our consent to the proposal at this time. We continue to be ready and willing to have further discussions should the League be willing to do so.”