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Jets stuck in Southeast after players' union rejects realignment

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BUFFALO, N.Y. - The Winnipeg Jets will remain the most-displaced NHL franchise for 2012-13 after the NHLPA rejected the league’s realignment proposal.

The Jets will continue to play in the Southeast Division with 24 games against Tampa Bay, Florida, Carolina and Washington. Worse for their opponents, they’ll need to travel to Winnipeg three times apiece once again next season.

Jets governor and True North chairman Mark Chipman declined comment on the issue when reached late Friday night. He said he will address reporters early today, having been granted leave by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to express his viewpoint.

The league is quietly furious that a realignment plan strongly backed by fans and teams is being held up by the players’ association, which is readying itself to enter collective bargaining with the league.

The current CBA expires after this season.

Numerous teams are affected adversely by retaining the status quo, including the Jets.

Under the realignment, Winnipeg would have played an additional 13 to 15 additional games in its own central time zone next season. It plays just three road games this season in the central time zone.

Travel to one side of the continent or the other is part of either plan.

Under the proposed realignment, the Jets would have had to play seven games west of the central time zone every season, as opposed to four this season. With status quo, that’s likely to be six anyway next season.

But under realignment, the Jets' travel to the east would have been reduced significantly. This season, they play 34 games in the eastern time zone. Next season, that would have been shaved in half, to 17 games, but the NHLPA wouldn’t agree to it.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Friday, January 6, 2012 at 9:19 PM CST: Changed cutline

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