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NHL Notebook: Ken Holland criticizes NHL scheduling, Jakob Chychrun faces setback in injury recovery, and more

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Photo credit:twitter.com/edmontonoilers
Cam Lewis
1 month ago
Edmonton Oilers general manager appeared on the Bob McCown Podcast with McCown and John Shannon earlier this week and discussed how this year’s NHL schedule has robbed fans of one of the best rivalries in the league.
The Battle of Alberta will feature just three games between the Oilers and Calgary Flames this season and all of them will be played before the calendar flips to 2023, so there won’t be any head-to-heads between the two teams down the stretch.
McCown: “Since we’re talking about scheduling, just out of interest, we did a podcast yesterday and talked about the NBA’s new thing, which is that they’ll have teams go into a market and play two games in that market. The Raptors, for example, played Saturday and Monday in Miami and now they have Philadelphia in Toronto for tonight and Friday.
The NHL schedule is slightly different but not that much different. You have places, like you’ll go to Los Angeles or Vancouver for a couple of games in a year. Would it matter to you if you played them a night apart?”
Holland: “You could do that with half of the teams because you play the Eastern Conference teams home and away, so there’s 16 teams where you only play once in each building.
And then when we play the other eight teams in the Central Division, we play four of them twice at home and once away and four of them twice on the road, so you’re really talking 11 teams that you could do that with. There’s the seven in your division and four in the other division.
Would I like to do that, once or twice a year? I think that would be nice for our team once or twice a year. We did that a lot when we had the Canadian Division, we’d go in and play two in Winnipeg and two in Toronto to reduce travel.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of playing a bunch of two-game sets. I think it’s nice that it’s nice to play one team and then go off to play another team. So maybe two or three times a year where you have a two-game set, I would be open for it.
Shannon: “You guys play Calgary this Saturday. You’ve played them once already at home, and then, after this game, you’ll only play them one more time. Three times in an 82-game schedule. Shouldn’t you play them more times than that? Wouldn’t you like your rival games to be more important?”
Holland: “I would 100 percent. We don’t play Calgary at home the rest of the year. We played the second game of the year at home against Calgary and our fans don’t get to see them again for the rest of the regular season. To your point, after game eight, we’ll have played Calgary twice and the next 74 games we’ll play one game against them.
It’s funny, you go back 30 years ago when there were too many divisional games and divisional playoffs and we went away from that. So then we went to more conference games and conference playoffs. Now my thinking is with the competitive balance in the league, you look at the standings today and the scores and there are so many teams that are so close, so there’s nothing wrong with divisional games.
Divisional races are great, you’d like to play Calgary in March and April when you’re racing for the playoffs, or hold a home-ice spot, or racing to win the division, and we don’t have that this year with this schedule.”

Jakob Chychrun is still out week-to-week

The No. 1 name on the NHL’s trade block is nowhere near returning to the ice. Arizona Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong said on Thursday that Jakob Chychrun suffered a setback in his recovery from an ankle injury that he suffered last March.
Chychrun wanting to get out of the desert had been the worst-kept secret in hockey for quite some time and he publicly confirmed in September that wants to “get moved to a situation with a chance to win and a team that’s fighting for the Cup.”
There are a lot of things to like about Chychrun, including a very team-friendly salary cap hit of $4.6 million on a contract with two more years left, but the challenge for any teams looking to acquire him is how much of an effect this injury will have on his performance long-term.

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