Friday, July 19, 2013

NHL League Size And Regular Season Length

With today's release of the regular season schedule for the NHL's 96th season of play, it's a good time to consider this season's offering in the historical context of the number of participating teams and regular season games played since the league's inception 97 years ago.

   Years 
Games  Teams
   Years
Games  Teams
1917-1918   
22
4
          1978-1979   
80
 17
1918-1919
18
3
      1979-1991
80
21
1919-1924
24
4
1991-1992
80
22
1924-1925
30
6
1992-1993
84
24
1925-1926
36
7
1993-1994
84
26
1926-1931
44
10
1994-1995
48
26
1931-1932
48
8
1995-1998
82
26
1932-1935
48
9
1998-2000
82
28
1935-1938
48
8
2000-2004
82
30
1938-1942
48
7
2004-2005
0
30
1942-1946
50
6
2005-2012
82
30
1946-1949
60
6
2012-2013
48
30
1949-1967
70
6
2013-2014
82
30
1967-1968
74
12



1968-1970
76
12



1970-1972
78
14



1972-1974
78
16



1974-1978
80
18




Rising from 3 to 30 teams and 18 to 84 games since 1918, the NHL regular season now sits at 30 teams playing 82 times a piece for a total of 1,230 games.  Aside from three work stoppages - abbreviating, canceling and abbreviating the proceedings respectively (1994-1995, 2004-2005, 2012-2013) - and a fire finishing a team (Montreal Wanderers) part-way through the year (1917-1918), most NHL regular season schedules have been played as planned with few, if any, interruptions.

Narrowly avoiding NHL relocation of the Phoenix Coyotes earlier this month, NHL expansion is once again a topic of conversation with Quebec City and Seattle leading the list of hockey hungry markets. The major change to this season's play is NHL realignment, situating clubs amongst their geographical foes in an effort to reduce team travel.  

Despite the success of last season's reduced 48 game schedule and fans apparent preference for fewer regular season games, it's doubtful future schedules will yield less than 80 games per season. 

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