Alright here we go concerning the Eastern schedule. Take your personal team bias out of this for a second and just follow me here. There is a lot of grumbling to why Hamilton and Toronto play each other 4x. The criticisms are that it is 'boring' and 'why do some of the eastern teams only play a western team 1x, while Ham-Tor (for example here) play each other 4x.'
My take is I'm ok with a 4 game mini series in the east since there are only 4 teams in it. The problem is that season to season its always the same teams that play each other that many times no matter what their record was the previous season.
I liked how it was a few years ago. You earned your season for the next year depending how well, or not so well the team fared. Which could also affect 'nothing games' at the end of the season when players are being rested.
If a team is 1st and 2nd in the east from the previous season they should have to play each other in that 4 game mini series. That also ensures the 3rd and 4th place teams will play each other in the other 4 game mini series. Although not foolproof, it gives teams more movement up and down the ladder. If you are a strong team you play another strong team in the division. If you are developing, you play vs a team that is also developing.
Right now there is the chance that the 1st place team will get more of an easy path to a winning record by not playing the 2nd place team as much. Does that seem correct? Does that even make for a strong division? What does that also mean for 4th place in a weak division? 4th place play the 2nd place team 4x as well right now...
I get any team should be able to beat any team regardless of the schedule. Lets face it, some teams get stuck for a few years in the developmental phase and just need that push to get out of it. Powerhouse teams may still be competitive or have lost a few pieces but are still in the top 2 the next year. Having those teams play each other is more exciting and creates a clear winner, while a challenging team coming up will still have a chance. The way it is now does not support that.
I have other suspicions why Ham-Tor play each other 4x. (Its mostly $, no surprise) but schedule-wise this is a poor move. I think earning your 4 game mini series feels better than just having a random one drawn up. Eventually you'll see lack of interest when 'hey well it doesn't matter if I don't go to this game vs a team that's not our level because there will be 3 more games guaranteed not including playoffs.'
That's just a feel bad moment for sure.
Just a criticism I have for this.
On the positive side, I do like the way they have spaced out the bye weeks in theory. I do remember the moanings about Toronto playing 3x within 2 weeks was always mentioned year after year. Also that one year Ottawa had to do it, and people lost their minds. So this doesn't seem to be as problematic, which is a positive.