TORONTO– Today the board of governors representing the American Hockey League (AHL) announced an alteration in their schedule.
The new format will have teams playing a 76 game schedule rather than the previous schedule of 80 games. There will be a modification regarding the Calder Cup play-offs that will have the first round of action being a best of five series, instead of a best of seven.
Also, the league has decided to extend the season by one week which assists in separating the amount of time between games; which in return leads to further advancement in the excellence of play.
AHL President and CEO David Andrewsstated,
“As our league has grown in recent years, we have been working closely with the National Hockey League and the Professional Hockey Players’ Association to seek a solution to what has become a very onerous playing schedule. As our league has grown and our game has become faster and more physical, the wear and tear on our players has begun to affect player development and at times the quality of competition. These steps are intended to provide a safer environment for our players through increased rest and recovery time, and also to provide our fans with an even higher caliber of play as a result of reduced player fatigue.”
With the changes coming into affect for the beginning of the 2011/12 season, what does this mean for the Toronto Marlies?
For starters, they were a team ridiculed with injuries all season. A “day to day” injury easily cost a player four games of action because of the schedule. The new schedule will eliminate the four games in five nights routine; a notorious AHL trait.
The Marlies found themselves playing four games in five nights five times this season, highlighted by a stretch of time in November that included seven games in nine days. Their record in those games surprisingly was 13-7.
Shortening the schedule will also mean two less home games at the Ricoh Coliseum.
What is unknown at the moment is how many division games will be played against each team in the North. The Marlies played each team in their division eight times, except for the Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal affiliate) who they played 10 times.
What will not be changed in the schedule is how often a team plays three games in three nights; another AHL trademark. Last season the Marlies played three games in three nights eight times, posting a record of 10-14.