The NHL is a business. Gary Bettman and his bean counters are always looking for ways to make money, especially considering how much the league has lost over the past few years due to restrictions, lost games and shut downs. Innovative solutions such as the NHL Bubble recouped some of that lost revenue, but there’s no way to sell an entire season and a half of lost tickets.
As the league explores new revenue streams here’s an interesting idea. The NHL could always add a few more games. No, we’re not saying have the regular season be 100+ games and last from August to July, but maybe up the season from 82 to 84 games.
There is precedence for this. The NHL did have an 84 game regular season prior to the 1995-1996 season (not including the 48 game 1994-1995 lockout season). Team owners would be thrilled to get an extra two games of home gate revenue. Maybe it might take a slight scheduling adjustment at home arenas, but it might be worth it.
More hockey is always a good thing. How about a slightly longer regular season where we have two extra games?
One of the biggest beneficiaries of this would be the players. Players might initially express concerns, such as more games leads to more possible injuries. Remember that when the league itself makes extra money, players begin to ask for extra money.
The NHL has tried other ways to generate extra revenue over the past few seasons, such as helmet ads and the upcoming jersey ads for next season. Expanding to 84 games would rely especially on extra work from the players. Thus players could rightfully deserve a higher raise for the extra work. Plus, that’s a great bargaining chip for them when the salary cap hasn’t risen much over the past few seasons.
Unfortunately, moving to an 84 game schedule seems unlikely. Earlier this year the NHL discussed and rejected the measure with the anticipated arrival of the league’s 32nd franchise the Seattle Kraken. Another added benefit of the 84 game schedule would be evening out the regular season as it was in years past. Many of the economic factors that could be used as arguments for an 84 game season existed last April when the NHL shot down the proposal. If it couldn’t convince them then, it most likely won’t convince them now.
In the meantime, the NHL will continue to sell ad space everywhere imaginable. That’s in addition to trying to up jersey sales with new additions every year or so. Maybe we will see “reversed reverse retro but not retro jerseys) before the NHL expands beyond 82 games.