NEW YORK (July 22, 2005) - The National Hockey League is returning with an exciting new regular-season schedule format that emphasizes division rivalries.
Each club will play eight games against each of its four division rivals (32 total).
Each club will play four games against each of the 10 non-division clubs in its conference (40 total).
Each club will play 10 inter-conference games, hosting one game each against all five clubs from a designated division and traveling for one game each against all five clubs from a different division. For the 2005-06 season, Northeast Division clubs will host the Pacific Division and visit the Northwest; Atlantic Division clubs will host the Northwest and visit the Central; and Southeast Division clubs will host the Central and visit the Pacific. Division vs. division assignments will rotate annually.
The new schedule strengthens division rivalries; division rivals played each other six times under the previous schedule.
The new schedule maintains integrity of the conference-based playoff format; each club continues to play 40 games against non-division, intra-conference opponents.
The new schedule allows for continued exposure of teams and star players from the other conference.
The new schedule allows for more compelling television matchups, thanks to the combination of stronger division rivalries with continued intra- and inter-conference play.
When things aren't going well for us in this city [Toronto], I think there is a lot of overanalyzing going on. You've got the most passionate fans in the world here and a lot of (media) coverage, so you know there's going to be a lot of people giving their two cents worth on us.
— Toronto Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk after a win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday