DETROIT -- As hundreds of Maple Leafs fans crossed the border to Joe Louis Arena last night, the question had to be repeated: Why can't the NHL have more games between Original Six rivals, particularly geographical no-brainers such as Toronto-Detroit?
When the lockout ended, the league committed to a three-year scheduling format revolving around eight games between division clubs, four games against the rest of the conference and singles against selected Western Conference divisions home and away. Toronto plays the Wings only once this season (Dec. 9 at Detroit).
Nothing will be changed until the 2008-09 season at the earliest.
"Eight against one team is too many and six might not be enough for some," an Eastern Conference GM said. "Maybe the answer is to cut the division games off at seven (a 3-3 home/road split, throwing out the extra home date in case a tie-breaker is needed at season's end). You pick up five extra games and (if you're the Leafs), there's your three games in Western Canada and two against other old rivals."
HOLLAND IN FOR LONG HAUL
As Maple Leafs general manager John Ferguson waits to hear news on his contractual fate later this season, GM Ken Holland and assistant Jim Nill have been signed by the Red Wings through the 2010-11 season.
Holland will have been GM 13 years here if he goes the distance on the new deal. But the move takes Nill out of circulation after he garnered interest among several teams the past couple of years, such as Ottawa and Calgary.
"(Owner Mike) Ilitch liked our management team and the chemistry of our management team," said Holland, who also is a vice-president. "Jimmy has had some opportunities, but in the end, Mr. Ilitch wanted to keep our management team together."