As the NHL and NHLPA continue to iron out the details and put the new CBA on paper, which will need several I’s to be dotted and T’s to be crossed, the league has tentatively scheduled a 48-game regular season that will commence on January 19th. There was hope that a 50-game schedule could be saved but the new agreement would have to have been cemented in the early days of the week that would allow training camps to open either Wednesday or Thursday. That doesn’t appear possible according to Bill Daly, courtesy of Sportsnet.ca:
“It depends on ratification timeline for PA, but it’s looking more and more like 48 games is going to be the only option.”
With the date of Jan 19th as the likely opening night, training camps are said to begin in the range of Saturday, January 12 to Monday, January 14. Again, it’s contingent on when the two sides can sort through the final stages of officially completing the deal.
While the official schedule is not yet released, a source close to the situation informed the Canadian Press that this shortened season’s schedule will be more complicated than the previous one that was used back in 1995.
The condensed version of the regular season will be much tighter in terms of how many games teams will play in a set number of nights. They won’t get as many nights off or in between games as the full schedule would allow, but in order to accomodate a 48-game season and avoid the Stanley Cup being handed out in July, this is the result.
Rather than have a balanced schedule against divisional teams, the Minnesota Wild will play some division opponents five times and others only four times. They will then play the other ten Western Conference opponents three times to round out the scheduling.
Will it be perfect? No, far from it. But at least we have hockey to watch.
The league has also tentatively set a trade deadline of April 5th that will allow clubs to assess their position for the postseason and whether or not they need to tinker with their roster. Given the shortened season, the top eight spots in the conference are wide open and it’s expected to be a log jam right from start to finish, making many clubs hesitant to pull the trigger on a big deal.
Because the playoffs could run until late June, the free agency period will also start later this summer with a proposed date of July 5th. The NHL Entry Draft, set to be held by the New Jersey Devils could also be pushed back, although that has yet to be confirmed.
The action will be fast and furious as the quest for the Stanely Cup will being on the 19th. Get ready, it’s going to be a “Wild” season!