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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

The NHL is going to a new schedule format next season, primarily to create greater balance in the opposition rotation.

That is a good thing.

Eight was enough for Dick Van Patten, but it’s far too many for intra-divisional play. Familiarity too often has too often bred boredom under this arrangement, not contempt.

The bigger bonanza is the potential all teams will visit all cities at least once, allowing players such as Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin to spread the gospel, in person, to more markets.

One concept that was floated by the Detroit Red Wings had teams playing twice against foes from the other conference (30 games), six intra-division games (24 games) and three against the remaining intra-division teams (30 games). That would add two games to the schedule, a definite non-starter from this vantage point.

As first reported on, next season is already expected to start a week later (around Oct. 9). Shoe-horning more games into a schedule that will already be more compressed is the wrong direction in which to head.

Instead, the league should be looking at chopping games. Keep the Wings’ proposal, with one alteration: four matches against division rivals. We’d have a 76-game slate, we could start it later and not worry about any compression – and the accompanying fatigue, both with the players and fans.

Owners may not like the idea of fewer gate dates, but the decrease in supply could fuel demand. Each game takes on more significance and generates more of a buzz. Savvy marketers would easily find a way to generate as much revenue from 38 home dates as 41.

Less would be more.

CLASSY CAPTAIN Thumbs up to Saku Koivu for having broad enough shoulders to acknowledge the Habs’ Francophone fans.

After being harshly criticized by some grandstanding politician for not being fluent in French, the team captain addressed the matter the way good leaders do: setting an example.

He voiced a new introduction spot for the team, in French and English, and it was aired at the next home game following the “news.”

Whether you subscribe to the politician’s viewpoint (I don’t), Koivu did the honorable and classy thing.


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