The idea to alter the NHL All-Star Game from a single game to a 3-on-3 tournament with four teams broken up by division could not be mandated by the NHL alone. They needed the NHLPA agree to it on the players' behalf, too. After all, the All-Star Weekend is as much a showcase for the players as it is for the league.
Like all things, the NHL and NHLPA had to come to a compromise to make sure that this agreement was equitable. The players were behind the axing of the Fantasy Draft which began with the 2011 All-Star Game. But they also got something else that benefits all players. According to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN, all 30 teams will get an NFL-style “bye week” during the 2016-17 season.
The league and the NHLPA have committed to building a "five-day bye week" for each team into the schedule next season. The league will schedule one for each club between Jan. 1 and Feb. 28 next season.
Players won’t have to report for practice until after 4 p.m. on the fifth day if they have a game on the sixth day, a source said. If the players don't have a game on the sixth day, they would have the entire fifth day off.
A five-day break in the latter half of the grueling 82-game season will be welcome for just about every player. That’s especially true for the players that participated in the World Cup of Hockey before the season. Those guys will have played a whole lot of hockey by their bye week.
There are a lot of other things to consider about this new idea. For one, it will be interesting to see how the teams come out of their bye weeks. Are they refreshed or if they’re rolling does it slow them down? Get ready for the bye week takes next year.
Another thing to keep an eye on is how this affects the rest of the schedule. Does getting a mandatory five days off mean the schedule will feature more back-to-backs for each team and have consecutive days off condensed at other points in the season?
There are already stretches in the season where a team might not play for five days. They’re fairly rare, but they do exist. This way, however, the players get a complete break from hockey. It will help guys who are hurt get the rest they need without missing anything and by that point in the year, everyone is dealing with some wear and tear.
Fans may not like the long gap between games for their favorite team, just like they don’t love the ones that are naturally built into the schedule already. But that might be a good week to read that book you’ve been putting off or perhaps there’s that jigsaw puzzle you’ve been waiting to have enough time to complete. You’ve got over a year to think about it, so start planning for the nice little break in the schedule.