New NHL Schedule Format and Divisions?

Commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHL Board of Governors are out to ‘tinker’ with the NHL product again due to the outcry from fans who loathe the current NHL schedule and from declining attendance numbers.

The Current NHL schedule calls for every team to play each of their division rivals 8 times and every other team in the conference 4 times. This leaves room for playing teams from the opposing conference once every three years on a rotating divisional basis (much like interleague play in baseball, but still somehow not as convoluted). All that means no Ovechkin or Crosby on the West and no Kopitar on the East.

New changes being considered consist of:

“A reduction in the number of divisions from six to four. There would still be an Eastern Conference and a Western Conference, but there were would one eight-team division and one seven-team division in each conference.”

Sounds like the format that MLB ditched in order to ADD more divisions.

“The top two teams in each division would be guaranteed the top four playoff seeds within the conference with four wild card playoff berths going to the teams with the next highest point totals”

Very similar to the early 80’s NHL playoff format.

“The four new divisions would be configured primarily along the lines of time zones. The theory is not only would this benefit teams in terms of travel, but could also boost TV ratings because game times in the same time zone would be more favorable.”


“As for the schedule, it is said to be a little more complicated than it currently is, because of the uneven number of teams in the divisions, but each team will apparently play its division rivals six times each and its conference rivals either three or four times each and non-conference teams once each.”

So it looks like everything will be “okay” once 20 out of the 30 Governors vote for the changes and that can happen as soon as the next meeting which takes place during the NHL All Star Weekend in January.