As many hockey fans have learned by now, the NHLPA recently voted against implementing the new NHL realignment plan for the 2013 season. Back in December, the owners approved the realignment plan for the new Collective Bargaining Agreement due for the 2013 season by a vote of 26-4. The realignment plan featured four divisions of eight teams, and the top four teams in each division would qualify for the playoffs. The league chose to consider realignment after the Atlanta Thrashers, who were in the southeast division, moved to Winnipeg for the 2011-2012 season, therefore forcing a change in the divisions.
Personally, I was a fan of the new realignment plan. Teams within each divisions would play each other more often than in the current form. As an example, I would get to see my Bruins take on the Canadiens more times each season than now. Due to the less divisions, some teams would be shifted within conferences, creating potential for new rivalries to develop between franchises.
The fact that the realignment plan was not approved only adds more issues in working out a new CBA. Allow the NHL may set a date for realignment anytime in the future in the new CBA, it only increases the chances of another lockout as it is an additional problem to work out.
There are some theories as to what the players association may be trying to accomplish in the next CBA. Some are saying how they may try to get rid of the hard salary cap in favor of a soft cap, or a luxury tax system. Yet, the more changes the players association proposes, the less chance of a realignment plan being put into place sometime in the near future, and therefore the better chance of the NHL locking out again for the 2012-2013 season.