NHL realignment plan delayed

calexander@newsobserver.comJanuary 7, 2012 

National Hockey League realignment has been put on ice.

The NHL announced Friday that it would not move forward with the realignment plan and new playoff format that was to begin with the 2012-2013 season. The format was approved by the NHL board of governors but the NHL Players Association did not give its consent.

The realignment plan would have divided the 30 teams into four conferences. The Hurricanes would have been in a conference with the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals.

"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 (plan) for next season."

Daly said the union "acted unreasonably in violation of the League's rights." He said the NHL would evaluate legal options.

The NHL said it will maintain its current alignment - Eastern and Western Conference, and divisions - and playoff format for the 2012-13 season.

Around The League

Rangers 3, Penguins 1: Brandon Dubinsky had a goal and an assist, Henrik Lundqvist made 37 saves and the surging New York Rangers beat slumping host Pittsburgh.

Brad Richards scored his 15th goal of the season for New York and Derek Stepan took advantage a gaffe by Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to notch his ninth goal as the Rangers won their fourth straight.

Ben Lovejoy scored his first goal of the season for Pittsburgh and Fleury stopped 18 shots but badly misplayed a clearing attempt in the third period, leading to Stepan's goal.

Devils 5, Panthers 2: Ilya Kovalchuk had two third-period goals to lead host New Jersey over Florida.

Kovalchuk broke a 2-2 tie at 11:40, when he made a nice rush up the ice and took a return pass from Patrik Elias, who was playing in the 1,000th game.

The Devils got a first-period goal from rookie Adam Henrique and a second-period goal from Elias.

It was Henrique's 11th goal of the season and the 14th for Elias. Zach Parise added an empty-net goal.

The Panthers got a first-period goal from Mikael Samuelsson and a second-period goal from Krystofer Barch.

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