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Dreger: Could the NHL heed the AHL’s advice?

The AHL chose to chop 4 games off its 80-ame regular season schedule and eliminate four-game-in-five-night slates during Wednesday’s Board of Governors meetings, and TSN’s Darren Dreger says that the NHL will at least examine several of the AHL’s proposals to see whether they could be tweaked to help the NHL while keeping the NHL’s 82-game schedule intact:

Some NHL teams have pushed for a similar schedule reduction since the lockout, going as far as to propose the NHL drop from 82 to 72 games (although those who still favour a change say they would be happy to trim the schedule from 82 to 76).

The NHL acknowledges there have been discussions on this topic, but sees nothing imminent when it comes to a change.

Because of an obvious loss in revenue, NHL owners are unlikely to support playing fewer games. But with player safety a key issue in today’s game and the millions of dollars lost annually across the league to injuries, the team executives who contend less is more will be closely monitoring the impact the AHL’s schedule reduction may have on its players. As one star NHL player told The Dreger Report, “Money wise we need an 82 game schedule, but body wise, 60 would be better.”

Continued, and given the ridiculous number of injuries occurring on an every-season basis these days, I think the AHL’s suggestion to extend its regular season by a week and reduce back-to-back grinds are both ideas worth examining.

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SYF's avatar

Money.  Lotsa and lotsa and lotsa and lotsa money says this is never gonna happen…esp. with the situation in places like PHX (chuckles and then I BWAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!), ATL, and NYI who routinely depend on handouts from the league like a bunch of crack addicts.

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 04/14/11 at 02:37 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I wonder if they’ll more strongly consider it if Detroit wins the cup this year.

Let’s face it, the Wings planned this season to work out exactly like it did.  Get off to a hot-as-hell start to bank points for middle-of-the-season games everybody knew they weren’t going to play at full-tilt or give two halfs of a shit about.

Since the rest of the league loves to copy successful models, can you imagine all of the top teams in the league in a shitty suck-off during the middle of the season while everybody tries to rest and get ready for the playoff grind?  The fans would (and rightfully SHOULD) revolt at such a prospect.

If you thought that regular season matchups already didn’t mean anything, just wait until this becomes the norm.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 04/14/11 at 06:09 PM ET

Bradley97's avatar

I’ve always felt the schedule should be dictated by good math and player health. The current schedule is bad math, and there is clearly an issue with player health. I think the solution would be to first alter the schedule as follows:

5 games vs. 4 division opponents (alternate home advantage yearly): 20
3 games vs. 10 conference opponents (alternate home advantage yearly): 30
Home and Home with other 15 conference teams: 30

Total games per season: 80

If the NHL does not want to lose 2 games then use them as bonus games to play the other conference. That way Pittsburgh and Washington (East examples) can visit/play the West two additional times each season, with Detroit and Chicago (West Examples) doing the same for the East. That also allows for Original Six and Canadian teams to play each other cross conference for an extra game (best of 3 instead of 2), as well as giving a “weak” market an extra game home and away against a top draw team (or all-star player). And as a bonus, the NHL could schedule the previous SCF teams to play each other two additional times (possibly a home-and-home with one ending a road trip and the other beginning one the next game) as a sort of mini series. Those would make great mid season games that everyone would get excited about locally and, depending on the match, nationally.

The NHL also needs to look at how the road trips are scheduled. The central division would benefit if the road trips made more sense, like not going out west to come home for one game and then going south for another road trip. Those single game home stands in the middle of road trips have got to be killers physically and mentally. Teams should always play no fewer than two home games in a row between trips, and those games should not be on consecutive nights.

I doubt the NHL will drop games, and I doubt they will create a schedule that allows the conferences to play each other twice every year, but at least the travel issues can and should be fixed, and that’s something they can do starting next season.

A better travel schedule would also likely save money as well, but that’s stating more of the obvious.  tongue wink

Posted by Bradley97 on 04/14/11 at 08:39 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.