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Why 82 Games?

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Hey guys, I'm just curious where the 82 games number came from that NHL has? In fact, no clue where the other North American sports # of games per season comes from (NBA 82, MLB 162, NFL 16). They seem rather arbitrary and no one seems to question it cuz it's been like that for a long time... I tried googling it and couldn't find anything.

In European soccer leagues, the number is simply determined by the number of teams in your league: each team plays each other team twice (one at home, on away). Very simple and logical.

And please skip the "because that's how it's been done before" reasoning since then the question would be, why was it done like that in the first place.


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The final season of the Original Six era in 1966-67 consisted of 70 games.

This was bumped up to 74 in 1967-68, two more the following year, and 78 in 1969-70.

The 1974-75 season was the first to feature 80 games.

There are currently 82 games in an NHL season. This started in the 1995-96 season.

They just added a couple for more revenue...some games were added due in part to expansion...

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Oh I forgot - they used to play 84 games but that came up in the CBA negotiations:

"The lockout ended on January 11, 1995. As a result, the league shortened the season length from 84 games, the length of the previous two seasons, to 48. Furthermore, the season would last from January 20 to May 3; this was the first and only time in NHL history that the regular season extended into May. Regular-season games would be limited to intra-conference play (Eastern Conference teams did not play Western Conference teams). During the lockout, the NHL and NHLPA agreed to shorten future seasons to 82 games."


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Here is why:

Division rivals are all played 6 times a year, while in conference teams are played 4 times a year.

That is 64. They play each team in the east once a year (except 3, where they play twice a year.)

That gives you 82 games. The only reason why these 3 extra games are in place is because if they weren't there, then each team would have 79 games. That isnt an even number (Cant split home/away). So they get an extra 3 games.

It makes 82.

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Cool thanks for the explanation guys. Specially the one about the # of games vs division rivals and even number.

That leads to my second inquiry which is, why do we have to stick to 82 games if we're changing up the divisions. Sounds like they're gonna go with something like this:


- division rivals: 5 games against 5 teams, 4 against one team (29 games)

- conference rivals: 3 games against 7 teams (21 games)

- other conference: 2 games against 16 teams (32 games)

Total: 82 games


- division rivals: 5 gamest against 2 teams, 4 games against 5 teams (30 games)

- conference rivals: 3 games against 8 teams (24 games)

- other conference: 2 games against 14 teams (28 games)

Total: 82 games

Why not make it more streamlined like:

- 4 games against division rivals

- 2 games against all other teams

East total: 72 games

West total: 70 games + 2 more bonus division rival games

I just don't see why they have to jump thru loops and make random number of games for each division just so they get to 82 games.

I personally much rather watch a shorter regular season and a longer playoff season, since I've come to the realization (specially after the last 2 seasons) that doesn't really matter what happens in regular season as long as you make the playoffs, cuz playoffs is all the matters in North American sports. I personally don't get that emotional for regular season games anymore... missing a lot of the games too (something that did not happen in the last 5 years that I was a die hard fan).

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