Sunday, April 25, 2004

NHL to shorten schedule?

The NHL is looking at shortening the schedule and is working pretty closely with the NHLPA to accomplish this, according to TSN. The plan is to shorten the season by ten games and play 72 instead of 82. The NHL is apparently working on a model where every regular season game would be played in-Conference with no games between teams from the East and West. Each team would
play its four division rivals eight times for a total of 32 divisional games; play its 10 remaining conference rivals four times each for a total of 40 conference games and a grand total of 72 games.
This proposal has a lot of support from most of the NHL owners I am all for shortening the schedule but eliminating all inter-Conference play is something I am totally against, as long as the Wings are still in the Western Conference. That model would be very hard on teams in the Eastern Time Zone but in the Western Conference because they would be traveling to the Coast that much more. I'm sure the support from "most" of the NHL owners is generally coming from the Eastern teams and the West Coast teams since they would travel a lot less further under such a plan. If the Wings were moved to the Eastern Conference, I would be more inclined towards this idea for that exact reason. However, that is not all that likely to happen, though it should. One of the worst things about such a plan is that it would basically eliminate all play between Original Six teams since only two of them are in the West. Play between O6 teams has already been cut down to a pitiful amount between the two Conferences and this would only make it worse. Those teams are some of the biggest draws when they come to town and would be much more appealing than the eight games the Wings would play against the Blue Jackets, for example. As much as I'd like to see a shorter schedule, I have to ask how a league struggling to make it can even consider shortening the schedule when there is such an enormous reliance on gate revenue. It doesn't make any sense. If teams from the West never play teams from the East, ticket sales will go down considerably because many people go to games just to see Detroit, Colorado, Toronto and other powerhouses play each other. Though I disagree with him for liking this model Tom Benjamin of Canucks Corner's NHL Weblog makes a good point when he says
But the best part of this story - the very best part - is that if the NHL and NHLPA are working towards an agreement in this area it also means they are working towards a new collective bargaining agreement.
That's about the only good thing I see in it myself.


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