The NHL will be moving to an all-premium format starting with the 2017-18 season, and it will not include the traditional 30-game schedule.
The move comes as the NHL has struggled to find a reliable source of revenue for the league, and a plan is in the works to replace the 30-team playoff format with a 20-team, two-way format starting next season.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and general manager Bob Nicholson will unveil the new format at a press conference Thursday morning.
The new format is designed to provide more exposure for the players and teams, said Bob Nicholson, general manager of the Calgary Flames.
The NHL has already spent millions of dollars on advertising to increase the exposure of the game.
“We have a very active, active fan base, we have a growing audience, we are looking for new ways to increase our exposure,” Nicholson said.
The format will replace the traditional schedule, which will be the same year every other NHL team will play its first game.
The league has already started discussions with teams on a new deal, but no final agreement has been reached.
Nicholson said the new schedule will also include a playoff-style playoff format, with teams that make the playoffs in the first round being awarded a wild-card spot in the conference finals.
Nicholson added the team that makes the final four will be guaranteed a top-three seed in the Western Conference.
Nicholson is hopeful the new deal will be a success and that the league will move forward with a more robust and robust playoff format.
The Flames have won five of their past seven playoff games.
The team is currently ranked seventh in the NHL with a 52-28-9 record.
The deal with Bobcat forestry was announced on Thursday, a day after the NHL announced a $2.5 billion investment to build a new stadium for the franchise.
The arena is scheduled to open in 2021.
“I think we’re going to be a playoff team,” Nicholson told the Calgary Sun newspaper.
“A lot of things can happen in this league and this is just one of them.”
The Bobcat package will include a $1 million cash incentive, a $500,000 salary cap hit, and $5 million in bonuses and salary-cap relief for players, according to a league memo.
The package will also allow teams to trade up in the draft, which was recently expanded to allow for the first time.
The Bobcat, a four-year-old, six-foot-three-inch, 180-pound cat, was a favorite among fans and the media in the 1980s.
The last time a Bobcat was a regular NHL player was in 1989 when the Calgary Hitmen traded for him and won a Stanley Cup.
“We are looking forward to a successful and stable future for the Bobcat in Calgary and we look forward to working with Bobcats fans, the community and the hockey community to deliver a high-quality and sustainable package for the club,” Nicholson wrote in a news release.
Follow Rob on Twitter: @RobHutchinsonNHL