Today’s Insider Trading was all about schedules for the hub cities.
Each hub city will start out with three games played every day at noon, 4 pm and 8 pm local time.
The Qualifying Round, which is a best-of-five series featuring teams 5 through 12 in each hub, and the Seeding Round, which is a round-robin for the top four teams in each hub, will run at the same time.
The Seeding Round games will be given the 4 pm slot in each city to try to keep late games from starting too late. Seeding Round games will be played with the regular season format of a shorter overtime and a shootout.
McKenzie doesn’t say this directly, but it’s clear that, contrary to some speculation, all the games will be played in the NHL arenas. The other arenas in each hub city are for practices.
The expectation is that when the hub cities are formally announced, the NHL will confirm that the Eastern Conference will be playing in Toronto and the Western Conference will be in Edmonton.
We don’t have any exact details yet on who is broadcasting the games, or which teams will play in the better or worse time slots, but a schedule that follows the NHL’s timeline and concepts starts out looking like this for the Qualifying/Seeding Rounds and then the First Round (best viewed on the web in mobile):
The Qualifying round has four series in each hub, as does the first round. Games listed in italics are the ones that might never be played.
If you carry on the rest of the playoff rounds in this format, with an off day between each round, no team plays on successive days other than at the end of the qualifying round, and the last day of a Stanley Cup Final would be October 6.
If you remove the off days, you can ease up on the tight scheduling at the beginning.
All the regular playoff rounds can be played with two games in each hub per day. The noon time slots could be used to spread the games out more and avoid long overtimes sending the late games into middle of the night start times.
The turnaround time to do the extra cleaning required under the Phase 4 rules is very tight, so using the noon time slots in later rounds would help with that requirement as well.
We should expect to see an actual schedule include TV broadcasters after the vote is finalized. After all, August 1 is three and a half weeks away.
Small updates from Insider Trading on July 9: Start times for games in Edmonton might be adjusted for television purposes by half an hour. As my concept schedule shows, you have to fit in some back-to-back games to do the Qualifying Round quickly, and that is confirmed, with one set for each team, and time frame of less than 10 days. Other rounds will be played in less than 14 days, so I think my generous off day is definitely out the window.