Is the NHL season…too Long?

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The 2024 NHL Draft is in four days, the start of free agency is in seven, and game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals just concluded with the Florida Panthers taking home the title of Stanley Cup Champions for the first time in Franchise History against the Edmonton Oilers in a 2-1 win.

If it feels like the 2023-24 season has gone on forever, that’s because it kind of has. The first games of the preseason were on September 23, 2023, the first games of the regular season on October 10, 2024, the last games of the regular season on April 18th, round one of playoffs started on April 20th, over two months ago, making the entire 23-24 season 290 days long.

During the ESPN broadcast during Game Seven of the SCF, the commentators said that this was the longest season in NHL history. There was an almost week-long break in between the Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Finals, which was the case last year, but the Stanley Cup Final’s started six days later this year. It doesn’t seem like much but when the draft and free agency are looming, it feels overwhelming. This seems to be the general consensus across most NHL fans this season as well.

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What can be done to change it?

I’ve seen a few suggestions about how to make the season shorter, including starting earlier, eliminating the ASG break, which is being replaced with the four-nations tournament in the 2024-25 season, and shortening the season to anywhere from 72 to 76 games, among many other things. I certainly agree with shortening the season or, at a minimum, altering the way that the Stanley Cup Final happens. One example I’ve seen is setting it up in a neutral location, not dissimilar from the NFL’s Super Bowl, and playing the final seven games there in order to avoid a home-ice advantage and eliminate the back-and-forth travel for each team. It could allow games to be played every other day rather than having a two, three, or four day break in between.

My personal favorite option would be shortening the season as a whole. From the 1949-50 season until the last year of the Original Six, the season was on a 70-game schedule. From there, it went to 74, then 76, then 78, and then 80 games for 18 years. For the better part of the past 25 years, the season has been on an 82-game schedule, which has been fine, but it is certainly a lot of hockey. If the NHL was to shorten the season to somewhere between 72-76 games, it could shave as much as three weeks off of the regular season. This means that the Stanley Cup Finals could be completed as early as the end of May rather than closer to the end of June.

Overall, it seems like a pretty general consensus that something needs to change within the way that the NHL schedules games. Most fans and a handful of reporters I’ve seen seem to agree with this, considering how close the draft and free agency are falling this year. What do you, as the reader think? Should the season be shorter, or do you enjoy the length that it is now?

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
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Jayd Serdy

I grew up in Seattle mostly following baseball as a kid and more recently got into hockey. Since then it’s been my favorite thing, I love the community surrounding it, the people it’s brought into my life, the opportunities and of course the game itself. When I’m not watching hockey I spend a lot of time outside with my dog and following all kinds of other sports!

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