Soon, kid. Soon. - Bruce Bennett
While there was hope that perhaps the NHL might be able to salvage a 50-game regular season schedule, it appears now that 48 will be the magic number, with the puck dropping January 19th.
After word broke Sunday morning that the framework of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement had been struck, the possibility was floated that a January 15 start might offer the NHL the chance to hold a 50-game regular season, which would allow for each team to play 5 games against each divisional opponent, along with 3 against the other teams in their conference, which struck many as being as sensible and balanced as the circumstances would allow.
An alternative 48-game option might see teams play each divisional opponent seven times (7 x 4 = 28), then the other conference opponents twice each (2 x 10 = 20). It sounds like 48 is the more likely scenario, although the format just noted has not been confirmed.
UPDATE: Elliotte Friedman suggests this as a 48-game formula:
Three games against the 10 teams not in your division. Against the four teams in your grouping, you play two of them five times each (three at home, two on the road against one and vice versa with the other) and the other two four times each. That's 30 non-divisional games and 18 internal ones.
The daunting task of drawing up the CBA and getting it formally approved by the league's Board of Governors and the NHLPA will take some time, and those tasks must be completed before things can officially get rolling:
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Canadian Press on Monday morning that it's looking "more and more" like that is the maximum number of games that can be fit in...
The sides are currently working on a memorandum of understanding which will be put to a vote of their constituents.
Meantime, the league has circulated a memo to teams telling them to be ready to play by Jan. 19.
Predators vs. Stars To Begin?
Jim Diamond of the Nashville Predators Examiner hinted yesterday that perhaps the Stars might be Nashville's first opponent:
Still unconfirmed, but word on the street is that the Preds will play Dallas in their first game. Not sure if it will be in Nash or Dallas.— Jim Diamond (@diamondhockey) January 6, 2013
Stay tuned for further details, and just imagine how furiously busy the Preds' sales staff will be, having to start selling tickets to games just 12 days away. Being a 12-game partial season ticket holder, for example, I received a note yesterday that we'll re-select our games once the new schedule comes out.