NHL roundup: NHLPA approves realignment; NHL wants visors mandatory
While the NHL has won a victory with the players association, an old battle has been rekindled.
The NHL Players Association approved the league's latest realignment proposal for next season Thursday with the provision that it be revisited after the 2014-2015.
The realignment, which has been discussed in some form since 2011, will be marked by the Winnipeg Jets moving to the Western Conference while the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets will switch to the East. Also, the division will be reduced from six to four.
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the next step will be a vote of the Board of Governors for final approval.
Under the proposed plan, the league would be divided into two eight-team Eastern Conferences and two seven-team Western Conferences.
In addition, the new plan calls for divisional playoffs rather than the conference playoff system currently in place. The division winner with the most regular-season points would play the lowest-seeded wild-card team in the first round, with the other division winner playing the other wild-card team.
Meanwhile, the eye injury suffered by New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal has re-invigorated the debate over a mandatory visor rule in the NHL.
Citing multiple sources, ESPNNewYork.com reported that the issue was broached during the talks for a new collective bargaining agreement in January, but the union remained committed to letting a player decide.
"It's a continuing discussion we have with the Players' Association and among our general managers," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told ESPNNewYork.com. "We have consistently been in favor of a rule mandating visors. The PA has historically been in favor of maintaining 'Player choice,' coupled with continued education and sensitization.
Visor use among players has increased to about 73 percent this season, up from 69 percent in 2011-12, according to statistics collected by the National Hockey League Players Association.
---The Nashville Predators sent forward Matt Halischuk to their AHL affiliate in Milwaukee on a conditioning assignment.
The 24-year-old has one assist and six penalty minutes in 16 games this season. He last appeared with the Admirals during the 2010-11 season, and collected 11 goals and 12 assists in 37 games.
---EHC Olten defenseman Ronny Keller was paralyzed after a violent hit from behind.
The Swiss League player sustained "permanent spinal paralysis," Swiss Paraplegic Centre doctor Michael Baumberger told reporters. Keller didn't suffer any head or brain injuries, the doctor said.
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