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GM Meetings

GMs to focus on extended breaks in schedules

Will advocate that teams resuming play face each other

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- NHL general managers expect to discuss the implementation of the extended breaks in the schedule, commonly referred to as bye weeks, when they meet Wednesday.

The extended breaks were implemented this season after being negotiated into the collective bargaining agreement to give players time off between Jan. 1-March 2 not associated with NHL All-Star Weekend. 

However, four teams came off their break and played an opponent coming off theirs. The rest were 8-14-4 in their first game back. The GMs would like to see the League have a schedule that has every team coming off the break to play another team doing the same.

"The fix is that you do it divisional or conference," Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray said. "This year, we flew to Colorado out of the bye, played mile high -- they call it that for a reason -- and it wasn't a good situation for us [Buffalo lost to the Colorado Avalanche 5-3]. I'm sure some other teams will tell you the same thing. Why don't Montreal and Ottawa play each other coming out of the bye week and Buffalo and Boston play each other? Do it right at the same time."

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The NHL will not include extended breaks in the schedule next season if it chooses to participate in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. Olympic participation would require the League to suspend the schedule for approximately two weeks in February.

If it does not participate in the Olympics, the League is expected to try to schedule teams coming off the break against each other. But it will be impossible for all teams to do so with the Vegas Golden Knights coming in as the 31st team.

There will be more dates available in the NHL schedule next season because there won't be a World Cup of Hockey in advance of it.

Every team is playing 82 games in 175 days this season on the condition the extended break took away five days that normally would have been available. Every team played 82 games in 187 days last season.

"You're going to have more days to play with, there shouldn't be as many back to backs, as much compression," Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said. "I'm sure there is a better way, and we'll find it."

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