According to a tweet from Bob McKenzie, the 48 game schedule that the NHL will reveal later this week will be based on this structure:
4 games against TWO divisional opponents
5 games against TWO divisional opponents
3 games against the TEN other conference teams.
Adam Rotter: The most interesting thing about this schedule structure, to me, is how it is determined which divisional teams you play four times and which teams you play five times. While they always play the Rangers hard, having one extra game against the Islanders instead of the Flyers or Penguins could be a big deal in what should be a very close Atlantic Division race. How they decide who gets the extra home game in each sequence is also interesting and could probably have a big impact in the Western Conference where travel is a much bigger deal.
Cherry adds “Don’t you remember the last time it was half a season and New Jersey won the Cup? It was a sprint not a marathon. Play within their own conference. Lots of action. The guys know every game is important. Won’t have the half season blahs. It will be terrific! They will go to the brink and then settle. Nobody in their right mind would kill the goose that lays these golden eggs.
In the Globe and Mail, James Mirtle writes that 82 games for the NHL is probably too many games and the regular season should probably be around 60 or so games.
In terms of this season, where the most games would be 48, Mirtle says that if you talk to anyone who played in the shortened season of 1995 and they would tell you how much fun and how exciting it was.
Mirtle writes “That shouldn’t come as a surprise either. Look at how physically demanding this sport really is, how beat up players get and at the travel the Western Conference teams go through and tightening the schedule should be a no-brainer.”
He adds that hockey is a sport that should be played twice a week instead of three or four times with back to backs.
At Yahoo, Nick Cotsonika writes that the NHL’s move to cancel games through January 14th has created a “soft” deadline for when the season needs to be saved.
Setting a hard deadline of January 15th would leave the NHL with little room for flexibility if Donald Fehr thought that the deadline was artificial and they would have to then follow through with cancelling the season.
He says that the NHL isn’t likely to go through the same process they did in 1995 when they had a deal in principle, started the season, but didn’t finalize the deal until later on when it didn’t turn out exactly like the NHL wanted it to.
Now, even after a deal is agreed upon in principle, there will need to be a week to draft documents and papers that have the precise language that will go into the CBA.
Adam Rotter: I have to think that the NHL, or at least Gary Bettman and the hard line owners, are serious about cancelling the season if a deal doesn’t get done.They may even take extra joy in doing so if the NHLPA thinks that it is only an artificial deadline and talks would continue after. The owners want to do what they can to hurt Donald Fehr and the PA, instead of doing the right thing which would be to embrace them as partners in a big effort to grow the game, and they may make another drastic move to get what they want.