NHL Scheduling: Love It, Hate It, Your Perspective

Matt WoodmanCorrespondent IJuly 15, 2008


Earlier this past season there was speculation that the NHL would investigate into making the NHL regular season longer, a whole two games longer. But is this what the NHL really needs to look into changing when it comes to its scheduling?


Over the past few years the NHL schedule has been criticized heavily, and why shouldn’t it be?


These days NHL teams don’t play enough out of conference teams. If you’re lucky you’ll get to see your team battle against every single team from the opposite conference once.


For example, last season the Montreal Canadiens played only 10 of a possible 15 teams from the Western conference. The five teams they didn’t play were all from the Northwest division, which just happens to be the division that houses the three western Canadian teams. Being a Habs fan I wasn’t too excited about that.


Another problem with the NHL schedule is the fact that a team plays each team in its division eight times! Despite the fact that it does build some great rivalries, it’s simply unfair for some teams.


Look at the Central division for example. Detroit has basically had its way with their division for quite some time, as they get to battle the likes of the Blues, Blackhawks, Predators, and Blue Jackets each eight times.


So basically “a walk in the park,” or a “walk into first place” while the other four teams are left to scramble for out of division points to attempt to make the playoffs (mind you though that the Wings would do well playing in any division).


Another example is the Boston Bruins against the Montreal Canadiens. Last season the Canadiens won all eight games, while the Bruins picked up one point of a possible 16. Next season should be a little more evenly matched. 


One thing I do enjoy though about the schedule is the great rivalries that are created and continued. Hockey night in Toronto…sorry I mean Canada, gets to feature the continuing feud between the Canadiens and Leafs, Canadiens and Bruins, and the Battle of Ontario, eight times a piece.


On the other side of the country we are treated to Calgary against Vancouver, the Oilers and Vancouver and the battle of Alberta.


In the Atlantic division, well everyone hates everyone in the Atlantic division so I won’t list the rivalries there as the list is endless. Hey we even get to see the Aves and Wings battle four times a season.


Another thing I am tired of is the NHL preseason. I wouldn’t mind it if they played maybe four or five games, but it seems they prefer to play seven to eight games. To be honest, that’s just way too much. If they want to play that many then start the preseason sooner.


And by starting the preseason earlier it should also cause NHL games to begin earlier. I would prefer the NHL to start in mid or late September rather than in early October. Sure this may sound like just a week or two in advance difference, but to us hockey fans, we like to get our hockey started ASAP!  


So what would I like to see happen to this “schedule”? Personally I would like to see less preseason games, for teams to play more out of conference opponents, and for the regular season to start earlier.  


But what am I saying? I must be dreaming for that to happen…