The next NHL schedule is expected to be released next week, and at least one of the features defining the schedule in the pandemic-affected season of 2020-21 will see continued incorporation into the new one.
That feature will be more of the back-to-back home/road “series” format that was so much a part of this past one, a league source tells National Hockey Now Sr. reporter Adrian Dater. It will not be as heavily a part of the last division-only schedule. That’s because every team is expected to play each other at least once in the 2021-21 season. Still, expectatons are that there will still be many instances in which teams will be playing back-to-back games in the same city.
That became a popular innovation to the 56-game, inter-division schedule forced by the pandemic. Players enjoyed not having to run around as much and hopping on airplanes after every road game. It also greatly cut down on teams’ travel expenses and, frankly, cut down on carbon emissions from all that airplane fuel. CHN was the first to break the news of such an innovation last December.
The Red Wings played back to backs in the same city 26 times last season. Players said that it made them feel more rested.
With more of the back-to-back series concept, players were able to go back to the hotel and get a real night’s rest.
“I like it,” Pittsburgh Penguins winger Bryan Rust said. “It’s like college hockey on steroids.”
It’s also something that may become a permanent part of the NHL landscape beyond this coming season too.