Won't be seeing Sidney anytime soon

BARRY MACDONALD -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 7:43 AM ET

If I was a season ticket holder for the Vancouver Canucks, or any other NHL team for that matter, I would continue to feel somewhat cheated by the league schedule maker.

It simple terms, I just don't need to see the Minnesota Wild four times each season. Which is four more times than I get to see Sidney Crosby.

The unbalanced schedule has been a hot topic since it was introduced prior to the start of last season. The focus of my angst is the eight games the Canucks play against each Northwest Division rival - four at home, four on the road. I am all for establishing rivalries, but at what expense?

Well, this year, it is the Atlantic Division teams, featuring the aforementioned Sid the Kid, and the Northeast Division, which happens to include three Canadian teams. That's right, the Canucks will not play host to Montreal, Toronto or Ottawa this season. Or next. And that just isn't right.

The Eastern Conference teams that do make one visit each to GM Place this season are from Southeast Division. Carolina, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Florida and Washington. Not bad actually. The first two Stanley Cup Champions ... Ilya Kovalchuk, that Todd dude that used to play here and Alexander Ovechkin. I like that if I buck up for season duckets.

But here's a plan. Why not play two fewer divisional games, and instead play some of those other Eastern Conference teams instead. How about a mere six games against the Flames, and one or two against the likes of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and the Rangers.

I understand the argument that there are 30 teams, and it being tougher to play a more balanced schedule than it was in the old 21-team, or even 12-team circuit. But please, you have 82 games to play. You don't have to play 32 of them against four teams!

Think of it this way. If the NHL chooses to stay with its scheduling model, then Sidney Crosby would make six trips here if he can fashion an 18-year career. That's once every three years. Wayne Gretzky used to come to Vancouver four times each season. My hope is that the NHL will tweak the schedule after next season. They will let the three-year plan run its course, then make the needed changes to allow all fans to see all the players. It only makes sense, and it just isn't that difficult to do.

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