There has been a lot of discussion on the Division "bubble" game scheduling format and how fans and players have enjoyed the two game sets with other teams, playoff-like sets. How does the NHL incorporate this concept into the 2021-2022 season along with adding the Kraken to schedule? I see only one way, a heavy emphasis on division games and a reduction in non-conference games. Let's review my proposed 82 game schedule.
- Division Games: 6 games with each 7 division opponents = 42 games (6 x 7)
- Same Conference: 3 games with each same conference opponent = 24 games (8 x 3)
- Other Conference: 1 game with each other conference opponent = 16 games (16 x 1
This scheduling when viewed over a two year period, balances with a 32 team league. Each year the Avs would play half of the Eastern conference teams at home and half on the road. The following season, the Eastern conference teams would be reversed. If Maple Leafs played in Denver this coming year, then Colorado would play in Toronto the following season. Similarly, if the Avs play in San Jose twice next year and San Jose plays once in Denver, then following season the schedule for H vs A games would be reversed.
This allows the regularly scheduling of back-to-back games against the same opponent within the division. Each division opponent would play a two game set home and away against each other setting up a total of 14 mini-playoff, two-game sets over the course of the season. This still leaves one home and one away division game with each opponent, too, completing the division-heavy scheduling. In theory, the two games against other conference opponents could end up as a two-game set, however, the division-heavy scheduling allows for more of the two-game sets and a balanced schedule when viewed over a two-year period.
The NHL would need to strictly adhere to the two-year scheduling framework, much like the NFL adheres to a four-year scheduling framework across the two conferences. This means avoiding what we saw in the 90's when Maple Leafs or Canadians would not play in Denver multiple years in a row, due to east coast or Canadian scheduling biases, and the Avs would play their one game annually on the road against these teams.
Let me know your thoughts in comments: Good idea, bad idea, I have a better idea (FYI: Attach a poll option not working on this site).