The next NHL schedule is expected to be released next week, and at least one of the features that defined the schedule in the pandemic-affected season of 2020-21 will be incorporated 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. While it will not be as heavily a part of the last division-only schedule, because every team is expected to play each other at least once in the 2021-21 season, there will still be many instances in which teams play 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 New York Islanders were one of the beneficiaries from the format last season, which already limited their travel to just the northeast corridor. Head coach Barry Trotz referenced the format in a positive light on several occasions during the course of the season.
It is something that may become a permanent part of the NHL landscape beyond this coming season too.