Gary Bettman, It's Time to Change the NHL Schedule

Garry ChristmanContributor IJune 4, 2008

Dear Mr. Bettman,

Since you've taken over as commissioner of the NHL, many people have pointed to you as the reason for the declining interest in hockey in the U.S.  I was one of those people, trying to figure out what you were doing. 

After the Flames left Atlanta for Calgary (for those of you who remember those days), I never thought we'd see the NHL again in the southern U.S.  Now, we have the Atlanta Thrashers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, and the Nashville Predators.  Maybe that decision of yours and the league to expand into the south wasn't so bad after all. 

The "Winter Classic" is another great idea that, if carried out correctly, will do nothing but add to the interest in ice hockey.

Now, we have an exciting Stanley Cup final with two of the most attractive teams in the NHL.  The first two games weren't all that great, but the last three have been pretty good.  Game five has to go down as one of the best in the NHL in a long time. 

Hockey seems to be on the upswing now, and this is the time you need to capitalize on the increase in popularity.  The one thing I want to see you do is change the schedule so that each team plays each other team at least twice a year; a home and home series.

A few years ago, the NHL went to an unbalanced schedule, each team playing those in the same division eight times.  Frankly speaking, that's way too much.  I'm a devoted Boston Bruins fan; I love watching them play Montreal, Buffalo, Ottawa, and Toronto. 

The games against Montreal and Toronto are the best, involving history that goes back to the "Original 6."  But enough is enough.  I think four to five games against each division opponent would be more than enough.

The NHL has the exact same number of teams as the NBA.  Additionally, the NBA has the same exact number of games as the NHL.  The NBA works out the schedule so that each team gets at least a home and home against every other team. 

I enjoy sitting back and watching the Lakers travel east to face the Celtics, Knicks, and Sixers and then watch those teams travel to the Staples Center in return.  The NHL needs to adopt the same type of schedule.

If I'm an LA Kings fan, or Anaheim, San Jose, or another Western Conference team, I want at least the chance to see Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, or another young star. 

Being a Bruins fan, I want to see Jarome Iginla, the Sedin boys, and all those young Swedes that fill the Detroit lineup, at the TD Banknorth Center. 

If I'm from Canada, I want to see Calgary in Montreal, Vancouver in Ottawa, and Edmonton in Toronto each year. 

In November 2007, the NHL decided to change the schedule so that each team plays each other team at least once a year.  This is a step in the right direction. 

Take it a little further; make it a home and home with each team.  If I have a choice between seeing Detroit one time or watching the Canadiens for the fourth time, I say bring on Detroit. 

Make the change Mr. Bettman.