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NHL Could Add Games for More Rivalry Matchups

  • The NHL is reportedly considering an 84-game schedule.
  • Teams have complained about an unequal amount of divisional rivalry games.
NHL game between Anaheim Ducks and Ottowa Senators
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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NHL fans might get to see more action between their favorite rivals.

The league is reportedly considering adding two games to make an 84-game schedule, which would allow more regional rivalry matchups — teams have complained about an unequal amount of divisional rivalry games.

The current schedule sees teams host and visit each opponent in the opposite conference once, three or four games against teams in the same division, and three games against non-divisional teams in their conference.

An 84-game format could keep the league’s original format plus give divisional rivals four games against each other, according to ESPN.

  • The extended schedule wasn’t discussed at the board of governors meeting, but is reportedly expected to be a topic at March’s general managers’ meeting.
  • The NHLPA would need to approve the expansion. The CBA restricts teams from playing more than 82 games.

More games could mean more revenue – the league still hasn’t fully recovered from the pandemic. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league is on pace for $5.7 billion in revenue for the 2022-23 season. 

Division Decisions

The NHL’s general managers have also discussed how to reduce travel for teams. 

“Why not take advantage of rivalries and save money by scheduling more interdivisional games and more games per stop?” one general manager told ESPN. “The COVID schedule seemed to work.”

The 2020-21 season was shortened to 56 games, with the division boundaries redrawn to avoid cross-border matchups. That season — including some multi-game series — division rivals played each other up to 10 times.

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