No doubt you’ve heard Locker, Joe B., and John Walton lamenting this season’s “compressed schedule” that leaves the Capitals with an unprecedented 16 sets of back-to-back games. And the logical question is “why”? Well, it’s not the hockey gods or the NHL frowning down on the Capitals but an action the NHL instituted in negotiation with the Players’ Association (NHLPA).
Last year, the NHL met with the NHLPA to discuss a change in the All-Star game format. The NHL, desperate to increase scoring, wanted to move from five-on-five to a three-on-three game format. The NHLPA agreed to the change provided that the league give each team a first ever, NFL-style, bye week.
As the bye weeks premiere in 2017, it provides every team a bye week, a five-day stretch where the players will be completely off — no practice or games — just rest, recovery and relaxation before the final push into the last months of the season. All teams will enjoy a scheduled bye week between Jan. 1 – Mar. 3. The Capitals bye week, that allows a luxurious six-day break, is Feb. 12-17. The bye week breaks are in addition to the regularly scheduled All-Star break that occurs this year from Friday, Jan. 28 – Monday, Jan. 30 when All-Star festivities commence at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The break is important to the players as their 82 game schedule is unrivaled among professional, physical, full contact sports. It provides players an opportunity to recover from injuries or just rest physically before the final push for play-offs in the last two months of the regular season.
Capitals fans will tred trepidatiously into the All-Star and bye week breaks in remembrance of last year’s unplanned snOVECHkin break that transformed the red-hot Capitals into a temperate mess.
By Stephanie Judge