SUN Hockey Pool

There's still time says Murphy

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

Like the last-place team clinging to its mathematical chance of making the playoffs, the National Hockey League hopes for a 36-game schedule if a collective bargaining agreement is reached in a week to 10 days.

"I don't think it would be that difficult," NHL vice-president, hockey operations, Mike Murphy said yesterday. "We figure you need two days for every game, so if you multiply 36 by two, that's 72 days, which could be fit in if you started Feb. 1 (ending mid-April). But you have to build in a five-day training camp and give players time to get back from Europe.

"Is that livable, suitable or workable? Without having done a great deal of research, we keep counting on playing at least four games against teams within the division and two against each of the rest in the conference.

"But not only does a deal have to get done, it has to have the i's dotted and t's crossed. And what we don't know is what buildings have been released (each of the NHL's 30 teams have had a rolling 45-day window to book other events)."

The 1994-95 lockout ended in mid-January with time for a 48-game schedule that ended the first week in May. The Stanley Cup was won by the New Jersey Devils on June 24, but the NHL is not interested in dragging the playoffs into July. Murphy said a 16-team playoff could be accommodated before Canada Day, provided the season is launched soon.

"You'd have to consider playing three games in four nights or four in five," he said, keeping in mind the past CBA forbade games on three consecutive days. "This is an extenuating circumstance, but you still can't risk injury or fatigue and a lesser calibre of play. We have to be sensible."


Videos

Photos