By Brad Lee
Darren Dreger with TSN in Canada has a little update on the possibility of changing the format for the NHL schedule.
Less than two weeks ago the Detroit Red Wings were touting a proposal for an 84 game regular season schedule that put a 6 game cap on the preseason - instead of the free for all that exists now - and included a home and away with all out of conference teams.
We are so in favor of playing every team in the league on the road and at home.Â Great idea,Â even if itÂ came from Detroit.
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks were supporters of the concept, which was delivered to most NHL owners and the commissioner's office.
According to sources, Bettman persuaded Detroit to stop the campaign to increase the number of games from 82 to 84, as it was for two seasons during the early 1990s.
Huh?Â The commissioner of a fourth-rate professional league doesn't want one of it's marquee teams to take the lead on an important issue?Â Seems like a smart commissioner would want the opposite. Â
Politically, the timing isn't right. Although, it's believed the Red Wings intend to re-visit the plan in the future.
Sources say Bettman was not pleased with the way the NHL schedule was so hotly and openly contested by league executives last season and intends to keep a lid on public debate this year.
Ah, now we see the real reason.Â When teams in the Western Conference talk aboutÂ their travelÂ burden, when they point out that Toronto should probably play Vancouver, Calgary and Detroit every yearÂ and when they point out thatÂ New Jersey could take a bus to almost all of its "away" games, it might make the league look like it's run by fools. Oh wait, IT IS RUN BY FOOLS.
We could harp on the joke of a TV contract, the efforts to curb fighting in the league, the heavy-handedness of pushing new uniforms out to every team in the leauge at once or any number of other decisions by commissioner Bettman and his league office. But the schedule is one of the biggest mistakes they've made since the league has only itself and Bettman to blame. Last year the NHL Board of Governors was on the verge of fixing this issue and making sure that players like Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin played in every arena and exciting teams like Buffalo andÂ iconic teams like Toronto and Montreal made at least one visit a year. And Bettman's lack of leadership coupled with Lou Lamoriello's demonic influence killed the proposal a year ago.
At next months NHL Board of Governors meetings, the commissioner is expected to roll out a new schedule similar to the pre-lockout format that will see fewer divisional games and the assurance all teams will play each other at least once.
The only question is, will Bettman have the leadership to make it happen this year?