Hockey Night in Canada's Scott Morrison delivers his insights into the world of hockey, on and off the ice.
A merciful end to the Great Schedule Debate?
Tuesday, January 16, 2007 | 06:48 PM ET
By Scott Morrison
It happens every week at just about the same time.
All that changes is the location. Some weeks it's in Toronto, perhaps Montreal, somewhere out west, last week it was in Nelson, B.C.
Every week, your faithful commentator meets with Ron MacLean to discuss the topics for that week's installment of the Satellite Hot Stove.
Just because the one topic won't go away, each week, inevitably, the faithful commentator will say to MacLean we have another breathless update on the state of the great schedule debate in the National Hockey League.
Without fail, MacLean will roll his eyes north and grimace. The faithful commentator shrugs and carries on, though inwardly he is rolling his eyes and grimacing, too.
The great debate, you see, is rather tiresome to everyone. Both the faithful commentator and MacLean agree: wake us when a decision has been reached.
Alas, the rolling and grimacing may be coming to a merciful end. Call it the break before the all-star break.
While there hasn't been an official declaration, the word on the street is that the schedule debate may die a merciful death in the next week and that the topic won't be broached at the board of governors meetings in Dallas next week.
The reason being, there is not a consensus amongst the 30 teams as to what the best scheduling configuration may be to keep the most teams happy. At least, there isn't enough of a consensus, meaning 20 votes, to carry the day or convince the powers that be to carry on with the conversations.
You might recall that commissioner Gary Bettman assembled a six-member panel to review the schedule, solicit opinion, then come up with a short list of alternatives for teams to consider. All of that was done and the replies were sent back last Friday. Four options (the last being status quo) were sent out and the most popular were either not changing, meaning continue to play eight games against division opponents, or going back to the way it was before the lockout, when it was six games against division rivals and you played every team at least once.
But, as many expected, there wasn't a groundswell of support for one particular plan, so instead the third year of the existing scheduling matrix will likely be played out, just as the general managers suggested it should.
On the downside, it means Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto will not play against Calgary, Edmonton or Vancouver next season, which throws a bit of monkey wrench into scheduling Hockey Day In Canada next year.
But on the plus side, the faithful commentator and Mr. MacLean will be no longer be rolling eyes and grimacing.
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About the Author
Scott Morrison, the recipient of the Hockey Hall of Fameís 2006 Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award, has been covering hockey for 25 years. The Toronto native began his career at the Toronto Sun in 1979. After spending more than 11 years as a hockey writer and columnist at the paper, Morrison became Sports Editor in 1991 and led the section to being named one of North America's top-ten sports sections in 1999 - the first sports section in Canada to receive the AP Sports Editors North American Award. Scott, a former two-term president of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, joined Rogers Sportsnet in 2001 as Managing Editor, Hockey, and is currently both a commentator on Hockey Night in Canada and a columnist for CBC.ca.
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