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THN.com Blog: Time has arrived to cut games

Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates with the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins to open the pre-season Saturday. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

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Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates with the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins to open the pre-season Saturday. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

The notion of reducing the number of regular season games from 82 to 70-something per team is one that will never fly with the league or the union.

Forget the fact it would make each game a little more meaningful, it also would surely reduce the number of injuries to players who are already pushed to the limit (it takes more than 100 games to win the Stanley Cup.)

The 10 to 15 percent reduction in revenue for owners and salary for players means it will never happen as long as society continues to put a strong emphasis on money. But why can’t we dispense with maybe half of the NHL’s pre-season games?

Revenue, I know. But maybe if fans stopped showing up to pre-season games after the fourth or fifth one, the owners would be willing to get the real party started.

There are 111 NHL pre-season games this year, an average of 7.4 per team. That’s 4,440 man games. Is that really necessary to get a player prepared for the regular season?

The whole idea behind pre-season games in the first place was to get the players in shape and sort out a half-dozen roster spots per team. Well, those reasons are gone.

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Players are long since in shape for training camp and the dawn of the salary cap era means rosters are pretty much determined, save for two or three openings, by August.

I’d like to see four pre-season games per team for a total of 60 games. That would be enough for newcomers to win the last few roster spots and for veterans to get their game timing established.

I don’t think the fans would mind either, especially those season-ticket holders who are forced to buy tickets to a long, laborious pre-season.

Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior special editions editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. You can read his Top 10 list on Wednesdays and his blog each weekend.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

 

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