The NHL has come out recently with the schedule after accepting and agreeing that they will go to the Sochi Olympics this upcoming winter. It is a very unique schedule that seems its out to knock out a few players as the season progresses, what am I talking about? Well it is quite simple, there is a ridiculous amount of back to back games in the 2013-14 season and it is a bit much.
Larry Brooks the NHL reported for the New York Post said on twitter that the Rangers have 12 back-to-back, the Islanders have 17 and the New Jersey Devils have 22 back-to-back games that is way too many close games for one team, fatigue and injuries are sure to come of this. The Canadian teams look like this; the Montreal Canadiens have 17, Toronto Maple Leafs have 16, Vancouver Canucks have 17, Ottawa Senators have 16. Edmonton Oilers have 12, Calgary Flames have 12, and the Winnipeg Jets have 10.
The Flames, Oilers and Jets have a decent amount but the rest of the Canadian teams have over 15 back-to-back games this is guaranteeing injuries for this up and coming season. I know there is a two week break, because of the Olympics, but the NHL is not a league that really does not give a hoot (yes I said hoot) about how long their schedule is, so why not extend the season a bit more in April to minimize all the back-to-back games.
The teams with the most b-to-b are New Jersey with 22 as mentioned before, the Carolina Hurricanes at 20, Chicago Blackhawks at 18, New York Islanders at 18 and six other teams have 17. The NHL average is 15 games and is one more than the 2011-2012 season. I think an average of 10 back-to-back games makes more sense a lot more than 15, again I am thinking about all the possible injuries and the massive fatigue some of these teams will deal with. The scheduling has been a bit unfortunate and I think the league needs to look back at their schedule and to fix it.
That is one thing I really did not like that the NHL did the other is the new divisions in the NHL. In my opinion the divisions suck I dislike the names, I dislike the fact that the eastern conference has two more teams than the West making the odds in the East for the playoffs much slimmer than the west.
Now yes I understand, you had to move Detroit and Columbus out of the West and put Winnipeg in the West. Technically you could still leave Detroit in the West and not have any problems its not like they have gone a decade without winning anything they have been a dominating force in the league.
The divisions look ridiculous too, look at the Atlantic Division that has Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Detroit, Buffalo, Boston, Tampa Bay and Florida in it. The only reason why Tampa and Florida are in this division, is because the league is so desperate to make money in the Florida region, that they need Montreal and Toronto to travel to the Florida area a bit more, because those are the few games that sell out. I will not even talk about the division names mainly because no one would agree if they were named after ex-players.
The first thing the NHL needs to do is fix the conferences and make them equal again either by relocating a team in the East struggling with ownership and money and send them to Seattle, or expand two teams to the Western Conference.
The problem with two more teams in the league is people feel it will become more watered down hockey with less quality players. The other issue is that aside Seattle who is an obvious choice for an NHL team; Quebec City and Markham Ontario are two regions who are pushing for an NHL franchise to call their own are building arenas right now and are in the east not the west.
One thing that might fix the divisions, or at least cut a bit of the travel time, although would mess around with the time zones a bit, would be this. Instead of having divisions that are mangled with northern and southern teams in the divisions why not have the more northern teams together and the teams who are more south be together.
Example, in the West you would have the Oilers, Flames, Canucks. Jet, Wild, Blackhawks and Avalanche in one division, while the other division in the west could have the Blue, Preds, Stars, Sharks, Kings, Ducks and the Coyotes. Yes I know the time zones are a bit messed up in the West, but it is the NHL why not mess around, the NFL has some wacky divisions and the league is the top dog in North America. The two east divisions could look like this, Habs, Leafs, Sens, Bruins, Sabres, Devils, Islanders and Rangers. The other division would have the Pens, Red Wings, Flyers, Blue Jackets, Caps, Hurricanes, Lightning and the Panthers.
These divisions would make a bit more sense to me and would ruin the rivalries that the league has had for a very long time. Of course I am just a fan showing an idea, I am not the first to do it and I am not the last. Right now I am just not happy with how the divisions and the schedule looks like for this upcoming season and hopefully it could change in the next few years.
You can follow me on twitter @NVincelli,