How many games are there in an NHL season?

How many games are there in an NHL season?

The NHL is a professional ice hockey competition in which 32 teams participate to make a run for the Stanley Cup.

In the regular season, all 32 NHL teams play a total of 82 games, which includes 41 at home and 41 away.

This means that there are a total of 1,312 games in the regular season. At the end of the regular campaign, the three best teams from every division qualify for the playoffs. There are four divisions in the NHL, split between two conferences. In the Eastern conference there are the Atlantic and Metropolitan divisions, whereas the Central and Pacific divisions are in the Western conference.

Structure of the NHL season

A campaign goes through three notable phases - the preseason, regular season and the playoffs.

The preseason usually takes place in the last two weeks of September and this features exhibition games in preparation for the campaign. These matches don't count for anything, but are more to blood new talent and get players match fit for the regular season.

The regular season starts after the preseason and continues for several months, featuring 1,312 glorious games.

The All-Star event is held in February. This is basically an exhibition ice hockey tournament, featuring skill games and the best players from the league. It also serves as a convenient break for the players, who during an intense season need time to heal and rest. The All-Star break serves as a bye week for the teams. The All-Star MVP is also selected during this week, normally the most outstanding performer from the event.

At the end of the regular season, you have the playoffs, where teams that qualify for the postseason face off in a knockout competition. The final two teams remaining play for the Stanley Cup and a place in the history books.

NHL considering 84-game regular-season schedule

The NHL has discussed expanding its regular season from 82 to 84 games in an effort to create more regional rivalry matchups, sources confirmed to ESPN.

The league has been considering alternatives to its current schedule after some teams complained about an imbalanced number of divisional games against rivals.

Currently, each team plays either three or four games against divisional opponents, for a total of 26 games; they play three games against nondivisional teams within their own conference, for a total of 24 games; and they play two games, home and away, against opponents from the other conference for a total of 32 games.

In the Metropolitan Division, for example, the New York Rangers play the rival New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers only three times each. The Rangers' Dec. 22 game against the Islanders is the last time the teams will meet in the 2022-23 regular season.

The addition of two regular-season games would allow the NHL to keep its current schedule format, which sees every team visit every opponent at least once, while giving divisional rivals four games against each other every season. One theory is that the preseason schedule could be shortened to compensate for the additional games. Games against divisional rivals typically draw larger crowds and bigger audiences on national and local television. "They could play Calgary in Edmonton 10 times and sell them all out. It's crazy," said one NHL general manager.

Expansion of the regular season to 84 games is in the discussion stage. The topic wasn't mentioned at this week's board of governors meeting in Palm Beach, Florida, but is expected to be discussed at the general managers' meeting in March 2023.

Although NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has steadfastly opposed adding teams to the Stanley Cup playoffs, a source tells ESPN that Bettman might consider expanding the regular season.

"I think it's really the simplest way to go," said the NHL source.

The NHL previously had an 84-game regular season 1992-94, when the league and the NHLPA agreed to add two "neutral site" games to every team's schedule.

Expanding the regular season is just one solution being considered to add more rivalry games to the schedule. At their meeting in Toronto last month, the NHL's general managers discussed how to create a schedule that reduces travel and adds more rivalry games -- including playing multiple games against an opponent on a road trip, something the NHL implemented during its 2020-21 season.

Sportico first reported on the discussions at the Toronto meeting.

The NHL declined to comment. Any changes to the schedule would need NHLPA approval. Regarding the 84-game season, the CBA restricts teams from playing more than 82 games, so any potential increase would require the players' approval.

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