Hurdles remain for realignment plans

Updated: February 25, 2013, 12:23 PM ET
By Craig Custance

On the night CBC's Elliotte Friedman reported what could end up being the NHL's new realignment plan, I wrote the new format described on a notepad and handed it to Detroit's Daniel Cleary after Saturday's game.

He took a moment to examine it, saw his Red Wings in an Eastern Conference-heavy group that included teams such as Boston, Toronto and Montreal and didn't need any more time for evaluation.

"Awesome," he said. "If that's legit, that's great."

Of course the Red Wings organization loved this. This is what Detroit wanted. The Red Wings are with other Eastern Conference teams; their travel is greatly reduced; and fans won't have to stay up until 10 p.m. to watch games as often. The same goes for fans in Columbus, where the turnaround under John Davidson could be getting an even bigger boost.

But there are still issues to iron out. According to one NHL source Sunday, the realistic timeline for a realignment agreement is still sometime in the next two weeks. The expectation is that it will be completely settled by the time the GMs meet in Toronto on March 20.

That suggests there's some work to be done on the plan. Although the Red Wings were thrilled with the reported new arrangement, there remain concerns from players about the unbalanced conferences.