In an attempt to get the ball rolling on the NHL season before the labor dispute is over, it is being reported that the Philadelphia Flyers would host the Pittsburgh Penguins on January 19 if the league can come to terms with the players union sometime soon.
The arena is booked that night, so the two teams would have to meet in an afternoon game, but Rossi reports that the Flyers and Penguins would be the opening game of a revised 48-game schedule if the two sides can come to an agreement.
Here's an excerpt from Rossi's report, encompassing some of the other sides to this new development:
A 48-game schedule will preserve most of the previously booked arena dates, but matchups will change because clubs will play only in-conference opponents. Clubs would play seven games against division opponents and a home and road game against each of 10 remaining conference teams, the sources said.
Pittsburgh and Philadelphia met last season in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, but the rivalry between the two goes well beyond just that series—one of the main reasons why the NHL would want to peak interest quickly with the season already in shambles.
Commissioner Gary Bettman has stated that the league would play no less than a 48-game schedule, somewhat alarming news considering a 52-game slate was scratched because the two sides couldn't come to an agreement over the weekend.
Although not out of the woods yet, this is a sliver of hope in an otherwise dark period for the NHL.
Nothing's final, but assuming a deal got done within the week and the players began the process back to the league, this would be the first step towards repairing the trust between the NHL and the fans that love the game too much to see it locked out ever again.
Sidney Crosby to start the league off on the right note? Well-played, NHL.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.
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