It’s been just two days since the Stanley Cup Final, but the NHL is starting to put its cards on the table for the 2018 NHL season.
The league is planning to announce a new set of rules for the first time this week, which includes a new uniform numbering system, new television ratings, and an expanded NHL playoff format.
While some of the changes were initially welcomed by some teams, including the Montreal Canadiens, the majority of teams, like the Los Angeles Kings and Edmonton Oilers, said they didn’t feel like they had enough time to prepare for the new rules.
“We’re definitely excited to see what’s in store,” said Los Angeles defenseman Ryan O’Reilly, who has been on the ice for three of the last four Stanley Cup Finals and has been an integral part of the team’s playoff run.
“The way things are now, the rules will definitely be the biggest thing that we have to prepare, so we’re looking forward to it.”
While the NHL will be looking to make the transition to the new system easier, it will still require some tweaking.
For starters, the new numbering system will only be in effect for the postseason, meaning teams will be limited to using the current system for the entire season.
“You can still have the number you had before, but now you have to change it,” said Calgary defenseman Jordan Eberle.
“You can’t change your number anymore, and you can’t use a new number that’s different than the one that you had prior to this year.”
In the long run, the league wants to avoid the situation where teams have to switch teams midseason for the playoffs.
“Our goal is to have the players feel that they have to go back to the same team and compete and compete on the same level,” said league vice president and general manager Doug Armstrong.
“That’s our goal, and we’re trying to do that.
We don’t want to have a situation where players have to have to leave their homes or their teams, and go out there and play.
It’s not good for the game.
So we’re definitely looking forward.”
That being said, the change isn’t without its downsides.
“It’s not going to be the same number,” said Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who was one of three players selected to the All-Star Game.
“But I think it’s going to change things a little bit.
I think I’ll have to start to use my old number.”
As for the television ratings increase, the NHL’s TV ratings for the 2017-18 season, which were up 22% from the 2016-17 season, are down 17% from last season.
According to ESPN’s numbers, the average audience for the NHL playoffs this season was 3.5 million viewers, down from 3.7 million viewers last season and down 17.5% from 2016-16.
The NHL’s goal with the new uniform system is to reduce the number of games in a season and to allow for more parity.
“That’s what we’re going to focus on is making sure that we can have a balanced season,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
“And if we can, we’ll be able to play a lot more games.”