NHL and NHLPA talks are sounding in their silence like success may be around the corner. At this point, many of us don’t care what the CBA says as long as they get on with the business of dropping puck.
But if quiet success sounds like a 1 December faceoff (I was going to say ‘kickoff’ but you would have chastised me for it), how many games can they put on the schedule for a (barely) 2012-(mostly) 2013 regular season?
When they commence to throwing dates on the calendar, they have to have some guiding rules to fly by. Here are some of the most likely:
1. An even number of games played within the division in order to keep an even home and away split. (So we are talking 16, 24 or 32 with our money on 24, or three each home and away for intra-divisional play.)
2. An even number of games with each team in the other two divisions of a team’s conference. (Here we mean 20.)
3. And potentially, 16 total from the opposite conference. (As in one home-and-away pair against one inter-conference opponent, and one each against the other 14, seven of which are played at home and seven more on the road.)
The above nets us 24 X intra-divisional + 20 X intra-conference + 16 X inter-conference = 60 total games.
There are at least two additional options at various levels of out-of-the-boxedness:
1. Eight per intra-divisional rival, four of which are at home and four on the road for each opponent (32 games).
2. Two per intra-conference rival split evenly between a home and away contest (20 more).
3. Five versus intra-conference division A at home + five at intra-conference division B on the road (10 additional).
This course of action gives teams 32 + 20 + 10 = 62 games, all played more regionally so players are better rested for the playoffs.
Here we play one each home and away game against all 29 opponents for 58 games. This option means conference lines do not matter, so begs for a one-time change in the playoffs to a ‘Top 16’ option, like old school hockey used to be.
What will they do? What will they do? Heck – we don’t know any better than you do. But we’d like to rate the possibilities as ‘All-Conference Matchups’, ‘Da Rulze’ and ‘Even-Up’ in order from our offerings. And no matter how you slice them, we are looking at 58 – to – 62 games if the current negotiations are going to be as fruitful as they smell.