Realignment leading to NHL work stoppage?

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman smiles during a press conference in Winnipeg October 09, 2011 prior...

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman smiles during a press conference in Winnipeg October 09, 2011 prior to the Jets' home opener against the Montreal Canadiens. (BRIAN DONOGH/QMI Agency)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:19 PM ET

I’m probably being an alarmist, but the little spat between the NHL and the players union over the realignment creates more fear of another asinine work stoppage.

The collective bargaining agreement, which came out of the ashes from the lost 2004-05 season, expires after this season, and every shot across the bow — even those from a pop-gun — makes you cringe.

On one hand, you have the league saying the NHLPA can’t block the plan which resulted in the 30 teams put into four conferences and changes to the scheduling process.

On the other, you have a union complaining it wasn’t consulted enough during the process.

Feel free to roll your eyes at the thought of where this could go. Any posturing from either side at this point is childish.

League commissioner Gary Bettman knew the proposal which was approved by the board of governors would involve more travel for teams. It was a price to pay for putting a system in place where every team faced each other at least once at home and once on the road every season. (About time, fans deserve that much.)

Why not bring it to NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr for his thoughts?

In turn, Fehr — whose reputation for confrontation during his time leading the baseball players has hockey fans feeling both fearful of a work stoppage and disgusted at the thought of it — knew the league was working on a new plan.

What’s to stop him from picking up the phone and becoming involved? Maybe throw in an idea or two.

It’s hard to believe the NHL and its players are foolish enough to delay or even flush another season down the tube, but incidents such as this sure make you believe both sides only think of their interests, not the other parties and the most important one — the fans who foot all the bills.

FLAMING C-NOTES

Kudos to Calgary born and raised NHL linesman Don Henderson for officiating his 1,000th game Tuesday in San Jose. Consider this: Henderson’s first NHL game was March 11, 1995, when the Quebec Nordiques played host to the New York Islanders ... Lost in the crazy finish of the Flames 7-6 victory over Carolina on Tuesday is Hurricanes goalie Mike Murphy took the loss despite not surrendering a goal. Murphy, who was summoned from the minors that day, played the final 8:37 and stopped both shots he faced. However, he was the goalie of record when Jarome Iginla scored on the empty net to make it a 7-4 game. Since Iginla’s goal stood up as the winner — thanks to Carolina’s frantic final-minute push — Murphy became the first goalie in NHL history to lose a game before surrendering a goal ... Flames players are hoping the league’s realignment will mean fewer games which require bouncing from one time zone to the other, which is the biggest problem with travel. Winger Alex Tanguay said time changes, especially when you go from west to east, are worse than the actual flights. “By the time you get into the plane, another 15, 20 minutes, half an hour. It doesn’t matter.”

HOCKEY TALKY

So on the same day it comes out Sidney Crosby will miss a couple of games — let’s be honest, they should at “at least” — the league has not one, not two but three boneheaded and dirty plays: Edmonton’s Andy Sutton with a leaping hit — with headshot — on Carolina’s Alexei Ponikarovsky; Buffalo’s Ville Leino for a “chicken wing” elbow on Philadelphia’s Matt Read; and Flyers Marc-Andre Bourdon’s hit from behind on Sabres forward Nathan Gerbe. So disappointing ... Talk about a seller’s market at the trade deadline. Detroit (US$5.6 million), Chciago ($5.5 million) and Boston ($3 million) are staring at significant cap space and you know they’ll be looking to add for a playoff run ... The Vancouver Canucks are starting to serve notice they’re going to be a team to reckon with ... Going into Thursday’s action, the New York Rangers had the fewest regulation-time losses in the NHL with six. More incredible, two of them came at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

YOU DON’T SAY

“Sometimes, for the guys, it’s almost better if you lose 5-4 than 2-1 or 1-0, because you have the sense that you did something out on the ice, that you did score a goal.” — Los Angeles Kings centre Anze Kopitar on the team’s website


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