NHL's great debate...

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

DALLAS -- NHL players may be in line for more frequent flyer miles if the NHL decides to revamp next season's schedule today.

After coming within one vote of bringing back full inter-conference play last month, the board of governors will discuss what's become an emotional issue.

Not everybody is on board for a change to the current format. San Jose Sharks centre Joe Thornton said it wouldn't bother him to not see all 29 opponents during the regular season.

"I'm really a guy who likes to travel as little as possible and likes to get some rest," said Thornton. "I'd like to see us play less games and that would give us more of a chance to focus on staying fresh.

"I wouldn't mind if we didn't have to travel East at all. It doesn't bother me one bit that we travel to Los Angeles four times a year to play them and they come see us four times a year.

"The same with Anaheim. I enjoy that and I think it's just fine the way it is."

While there are several proposals on the table, a formula which will see teams from the East and West play each other once and possibly twice is getting consideration.

"I have a strong sense from fellow governors that everybody would like to see resolution on this issue," said Senators president Roy Mlakar.

"I know there are a lot of people who feel that we should play all the teams in the Western Conference at least once during the regular season. I know all the Canadian teams would be very disappointed if we didn't get a chance to play each other every year."

MUST RESOLVE ISSUE

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly agrees the league needs to resolve the issue one way or another today. The league can't keep talking about a change and then do nothing.

The current format was adopted to increase the number of games between conference rivals.

"Yes. That's what we've run into," said Daly. "Up to this point, there's been enough support on the old schedule and there hasn't been enough support to make a change.

"If we don't make a change (today), we won't make a change. Then, it's not going to happen. Next season's schedule will be put to bed.

"I'd say if the sentiment of the board is not to change for next season, it doesn't end the debate. We're entering the third year of a three-year cycle. Let's at least get through this and then evaluate the need for change."

Part of the problem is the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals are all against a change because most of their travel is done by bus. Those owners have a lot of power and the league is going to need 20 votes to make this pass.

"I'd be guessing if I thought which way this might go," said Daly. "We made the change for the reason and we made the change as a response for our fans. The teams were comfortable at that time.

"Now, we have teams that aren't comfortable and want to change it."


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