It’s always a concern that when a league holds a shortened season, it crams in far too many games as a way to recoup some of the lost revenue.
That certainly was the case for the NBA last season, when they still played 66 games despite not tipping off until Christmas Day, and the result was an ugly mix of tired players, injuries and bad basketball.
Because it’s a less gruelling sport, the NBA typically plays its 82-game seasons in fewer days than the NHL, with the difference generally between a 170-day regular-season schedule for basketball and a 185-day one for hockey.
That makes for an average of about 3.4 games a week for your average NBA team and closer to 3.1 for your average NHL one, with days off for an all-star or Olympic break often mixed in.
But when the NBA played its lockout shortened campaign, teams were faced with 3.73 games per week – an increase of roughly 10 per cent – which sometimes meant three games in three nights.
The good news when it comes to the NHL, however, is that they haven’t gone to those extremes, in part by moving the end of the regular season into the start of May.
Likely realizing the difference between the two sports and perhaps learning from the NBA’s example, the NHL brass are planning to play a 48-game season in 103 days or a 50-game season in 107, depending on when it can get its new collective agreement ratified and training camps opened across North America.
That will make for roughly 3.27 games a week per team – or just 2 per cent more than what players usually have to deal with during Olympic years.
While many NHL players have been playing in Europe or the minor leagues during the lockout, the total wear and tear on the average player is lower than it would otherwise have been at this point.
That means that playing a slightly more compressed schedule than normal shouldn’t be an issue - especially given the league plans to have no out-of-conference games this season.
Consider this one of the main things the NHL got right in getting the game back on the ice.
The only problem? Stretching the regular season into early May means the postseason is going to go long - perhaps longer than it ever has before.
Stanley Cup games are all but guaranteed to be played in late June, and you entirely can’t rule out the first ever NHL contests being played in July.
The NHL plan: 50 games in 107 days
A typical 82-game NHL season usually has roughly three games per team per week, which isn't far off what the NHL will likely play in its proposed shortened 50-game season.
Games per week
Minus days off*
*- days off only counted for leaguewide all-star or Olympic breaks
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