The biggest news this weekend was the NHLPA's decision to reject realignment for next season, a measure the NHL Board of Governors voted on and approved at their meetings in Pebble Beach in early December. As a fan of realignment this is an unfortunate turn of events, but count me among those who feel as if the measure will be used as a bargaining chip for the NHLPA this summer when CBA negotiations are re-opened.
NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr, who led the MLBPA through the baseball strike in 1994-1995, is a shrewd and tough negotiator who is extremely familiar with labor disputes and how to leverage issues for his clients. To me, this seems like a case of bargaining power-- the NHLPA's release and reasoning for rejecting the proposed realignment plan contains points that are undoubtedly relevant to the players, but at its core I believe it to be a bargaining chip the NHLPA is attempting to utilize when the two sides sit down to discuss renewal of the CBA.
No matter what the case may be however, it adds even more intrigue to what was already expected to be a fierce negotiation process this summer. And for now, realignment looks to be on the shelf for at least one more year.
As for the Sharks-Capitals game set to be played later tonight, Antti Niemi and Tomas Vokoun will be in net for their respective teams. According to David Pollak, here's how the Sharks lines will probably start out:
Joe Pavelski - Joe Thornton - Benn Ferriero
Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Patrick Marleau
Jamie McGinn - Michal Handzus - Torrey Mitchell
Brad Winchester - Andrew Desjardins - Tommy Wingels
Some more news and notes to tide you over before puck drop:
- David Pollak talks to Doug Wilson, Todd McLellan, and numerous players about the NHLPA's decision to reject realignment.
- Kevin Kurz breaks down what to watch for during tonight's game.
- Jamie Baker gives us 12 thoughts in his weekly Baker's Dozen.
- Episode 3 of the Hockey Hot Stove covers the Winter Classic, HBO's 24/7, and covers San Jose performance thus far this year.
Puck drops at 7:37 PM.