NHL Schedule Will Change
The NHL’s Board of Governors has put a stop to the whining that’s been going post-lockout about the league’s schedule. The schedule has been changed bringing divisional games down to six, from eight, and make sure all teams in the league play each other at least once during the season.
The real downfall to the current schedule was the media pounding the idea home that all teams need to play each other once. The typical argument was something about Original Six rivalries that don’t exist anymore, or Western Canada not seeing Sydney Crosby or Sasha Ovechkin (that’s for you, Mirtle).
Of course, for every Canucks vs Penguins game, you see the Canucks play the Rangers, Islanders, Devils and Flyers. For every Canucks vs Capitals game, you see the Canucks play the Hurricanes, Panghers, Thrashers and Lightning.
Teams like the Rangers, Maple Leafs and Canadiens will always be big away draws. The other teams? Not so much.
The win here is the concept. Fans of the league, and the media that covers the league, became so used to a balanced schedule that it just seemed odd for teams to not play each other. The concept will make people happy.
The loss here will probably be a hit to attendance and ratings. People are fooling themselves if they think there’s more interest in the Canucks hitting the Southeast division more instead of seeing another divisional game. That one game where Ovechkin comes to town may draw interest, but the rest of the division won’t carry nearly the same weight as the games the league is removing. There are exceptions. The biggest win is probably for fans of the Red Wings and Blue Jackets will see more games in their time zone; of course for the same reasons, Eastern Conference teams will see less.