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NHL Rumors: 84-Game Schedule Discussed to Create More Regional Rivalry Games

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVDecember 16, 2022

NEWARK, NJ - APRIL  24:  A general view of the NHL logo on the back of the goal on April 24, 2022 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Rich Graessle/Getty Images)
Rich Graessle/Getty Images

The NHL has discussed expanding the regular season from 82 to 84 games, according to Greg Wyshynski of ESPN.

The change would allow for more rivalry games between divisional opponents while also limiting the imbalance under the current format.

With 82 games, each of the 32 teams plays twice against opponents in the other conference and three times against non-divisional opponents in the same conference. It leaves just 26 games for divisional matchups, meaning teams play some of their seven rivals three times and others four times.

Adding two games to the schedule would allow for 28 divisional battles per team, resulting in two home and two away games against each rival.

A problem with the current schedule is that some rivalry matchups are limited to just three games. The Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers won't play after Dec. 27, for instance.

"They could play Calgary in Edmonton 10 times and sell them all out. It's crazy," one NHL general manager told Wyshynski.

The Oilers' only home matchup against the Flames was its second game of the year, on Oct. 15. In the Eastern Conference, the New York Rangers and New York Islanders will also play only three times this season.

In addition to providing extra revenue with big games, the new schedule could reduce travel costs.

"Why not take advantage of rivalries and save money by scheduling more intradivisional games and more games per stop?" a general manager said. "The COVID schedule seemed to work."

During the shortened 2020-21 season, teams exclusively played regional matchups, most often two in a row in the same location, to limit travel.

The NHL Players' Association would need to approve any additional games, as that could add injury risks while also affecting prorated salaries.

The league last had an 84-game schedule in 1992-93 and 1993-94.