[Editor's note: Video of Burish's interview is up, after the jump.]
As the Dallas Stars were gearing up for their big afternoon game against the Edmonton Oilers, most of the talk around the NHL was the news of how realignment for next season would no longer happen. With the NHLPA rejecting the NHL's realignment plan, which would create four conferences and change the playoff format, most of the reaction -- especially with fans -- was entirely negative as directed toward the NHLPA.
With the NHL and NHLPA headed into what will likely be some heated CBA negotiations this summer, many felt this was a power play by the union -- as well as by the league -- that toyed with the fans' emotions and was set up to make the players look bad in this regard. The truth lies somewhere in the middle, perhaps; there's no doubt that Donald Fehr sees this as a golden opportunity to fire a salvo at the league, but there's no doubting that the players had legitimate concerns about the radical plan the NHL was proposing.
Adam Burish, the player's representative for the Dallas Stars, talked after the game about what led to the union's decision to dismiss the NHL's proposal -- as well as the reaction from the players on the Dallas Stars, the team that realignment would have positively impacted the most.
"They went around and asked 'are you in favor are you not in favor' -- for the Stars it would have been great," Burish said. "Our division games, none of them are in the same time zone. Realignment would have been good for the Stars, but would it have been good for the Philadelphia Flyers or the St Louis Blues? Probably not as much."
Much more from Burish after the jump.
Burish made it very clear that while the realignment plan would have been incredibly great for the Dallas Stars, they had to think about the union and how the plan would affect the league and all the players across it. In the end, there were just too many questions and too many issues for most of the teams and the players for the NHLPA to agree with the plan.
"The tough thing there, as a union, it's not just the Dallas Stars," said Burish. "It's not just one group or the other. We understand the big concern in the conference call was the seven teams versus eight teams, how much easier it is with another team, how easier it is to make the playoffs. That was a big point. It's tough for us as the Stars but you can't look at it as just our team."
When asked about how the players in the Stars locker room reacted, it was obvious that some weren't happy with the union's decision. Alex Goligoski, talking to Defending Big D last week, made it clear he was excited about the changes. Yet, as Burish pointed out, this was about the union and not just one team.
"When it came back and that was the ruling, obviously some of our guys were upset about it. It would have been a lot easier for us. Those guys in Columbus, those guys on the East Coast -- those guys are in their beds every night. It's pretty nice. On the executive board, you have to look at things as a whole and there were things that needed to be fixed that didn't so I think that's ultimately why it's not working out."
That issue -- questions not getting answered and the issues the players had not getting addressed -- was the biggest problem the players had. The NHL, by some reports, failed to respond to the requests from the NHLPA on certain issues and then later went to the union with a set deadline for a decision. With those issues not addressed, it was tough for the union to agree to such a radical change in the alignment of the league and the playoff format.
"I know there was some delays in getting the information that they wanted and they didn't get it right away," said Burish. "I don't know why that happened. I think it was just some miscommunication somewhere, I don't think ultimately it was anybody's fault. I think that we raised some concerns that some teams, that some guys weren't happy about and at the end of the day the NHL said they needed a deadline.
"At the end of the day, I guess it's going to have to wait another year."
Burish made it clear that this was something the players on the Stars wanted and it was likely a tough decision for him to make a representative for the team -- especially considering the amount of travel the team endures each season. Yet, according to Burish, it was actually the proposed playoff format that created the biggest issue with the union -- not the travel.
"That's probably half of it," said Burish, discussing the proposed uneven alignment between conferences. "That was a big part of it. Those Eastern teams had seven teams in their group and the Western teams had eight. Four out of seven is a big difference from four out of eight. That was a big point of discussion and that was probably one of the big factors for why it didn't work."
The one good thing that the NHL did address was the home and home scheduling for every team in the league, meaning that Dallas Stars fans at the AAC would see each team across the NHL at least once per season.
"That was something that everyone was excited about, that was the biggest positive throughout everyone that you got to see every team in your building. I think eventually the NHL has to get there, I think they will get there but I think that was the biggest point that everybody loved about the whole thing."
In the end, the players just had too many concerns and none that were adequately addressed. While there are sure to be conspiracy theories in regards to this being more about the upcoming CBA negotiations, according to Burish this was simply about the players just not feeling good about the radical changes.
"It's tough, but again it's not just about one team in the union," Burish reiterated. "Our guys wanted it, but you can't think that way. There's a lot of other teams in this union and we have to think as a group and as a group we're together on this one."