The 2013 NHL schedule will be released after the Board of Governors ratifies the new Collective Bargaining Agreement on Wednesday and the NHLPA follows suit by the end of the week.
Already, opening day matchups are starting to filter through the media – but what about the “Critical Dates” of the 48-game season, like the trade deadline and the NHL Draft?
Know this: The schedule is very much in flux. Washington Capitals GM George McPhee said yesterday that his team went from thinking it would start on the road to thinking it would have three home dates to begin the campaign – and even that’s not settled. Arena availability, travel considerations and television matchups are all under consideration.
But as far as “Critical Dates” go, John Shannon of Sportsnet and Steve Ladurantaye of the Globe & Mail report that the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be held through late June. How late? Really late.
The regular season is set to end at the beginning of May, and the last playoff game could be played on June 25th under the scheduling being considered by the league. The late playoff run is particularly challenging for Rogers Media, which is fielding its most potentially competitive Toronto Blue Jays in years and will have trouble fitting both NHL games and baseball games onto its collection of sports channels.
Shannon reports that the regular season would end on April 27 and the playoffs would begin in May 1 under the schedule framework currently being considered. He hears the last day of the Stanley Cup Final would be June 28; keep in mind the 1995 Cup Final ended in four games on June 24.
If June 28, 2013 sounds familiar as an NHL date, that’s because it was scheduled to be the first day of the NHL Draft at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.
Puck Daddy has learned that the Draft will shift to that weekend – Saturday, June 29 and Sunday, June 30 – under the schedule being considered by the NHL; meaning that the Stanley Cup Final could end one night and the Draft would begin the next night. Wow ...
(UPDATE: Our radio buddy Jeff Marek tells us that he's heard it could be a one-day MEGADRAFT on June 30, rather than a 2-day affair.)
As far as the NHL trade deadline, Shannon reports it could be April 3. The trade deadline typically when 25 percent of the regular season is remaining. To use the 1995 example, teams were somewhere between 34-36 games played by April 7, which was that 48-game season’s trade deadline. So there could be around 12-14 games remaining after the deadline if that pattern holds.
Again: There are a ton of variable here that could play around with these dates, from television considerations to the length of playoff series (i.e. we'd need a seven-gamer in each round to reach that June 28 date). But buckle up ... hockey will be with us until nearly July.