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updated: 1/8/2012 9:40 PM

Hawks players fully support union on realignment

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John Scott, the Blackhawks' union representative, said he and his teammates are fully behind the decision by the NHL Players Association to withhold its consent for realignment.

The league on Friday scrapped its four-conference realignment plan for the 2012-13 season after the NHLPA refused to go along without any input.

Scott and other Hawks agreed they are concerned with the fact there would be eight teams in two conferences and seven in the other two, making it harder for the teams with eight clubs to make the playoffs.

The players also want the issue of travel addressed, particularly for those teams in the east who would have worse schedules.

"We're willing to talk with them and work with them, but it was one of those things where (the NHL) made a decision and put out a headline like it was a done deal and we really had no input in the whole discussion," Scott said.

"We just wanted to have a few talks with them to go through it about, obviously, the eight teams in one conference, seven in the other, all the travel and playoff systems. We weren't really part of that discussion."

Scott took part in a conference call with union executive director Donald Fehr after polling his Hawks teammates.

"It was a unanimous decision that we can't accept it at this time," Scott said. "There are so many unknowns."

You would think playing in the Western Conference, where travel can be brutal, would have the Hawks in favor of the new realignment plan.

The Hawks were scheduled to be in one of the eight-team conferences with Detroit, St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus, Minnesota, Winnipeg and Dallas.

"We're the NHLPA, we're a group, and who knows if you're going to be on the East Coast one year or the West Coast," Scott said. "You have to look at it as a whole and make the best decision for everybody."

Hawks defenseman Steve Montador, a former union rep with Buffalo, said the key for the players is the unbalanced conference format.

"The big thing is the playoffs and how a player wants to be able to make it into the playoffs," Montador said. "To give yourself a disadvantage based on where you play is not something that seems that fair."

Scott doesn't agree that this is the first salvo being fired by the union in what is expected to be a difficult negotiating process when the current collective bargaining agreement expires in September.

"It's kind of two separate issues," Scott said. "Realignment will happen, it's just that we need to be a part of the negotiations. The CBA is a completely different animal."

Scott doesn't anticipate another work stoppage in the fall.

"I think the game is in a good spot. We're growing," he said. "I can't see any reason why we can't get something done."

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