Between the physical aspects of the game and its quick pace, hockey is an incredibly tiring sport. If you feel tired after one game in a recreational league, imagine the fatigue of an entire season at the professional level. The season can be a gruelling journey.
You might be wondering how many games a professional hockey player performs in. While it depends on the league and how far their team advances, it’s never a small number for professional players. Let’s look at different leagues and their schedules.
Number of Games in an NHL Season
During the NHL’s 1917-18 inaugural season, each team played a 22-game schedule. The league has come a long way, with all 31 teams playing in 82 games. It consists of 41 games on home ice and the other 41 on the road, just like an NBA team’s schedule.
If a team wishes to hoist the Stanley Cup, this isn’t the end of the road for them. They must progress through the postseason, enduring four best-of-seven playoff series. A championship-winning team in the NHL can play anywhere between 98 and 110 games.
Number of Games in an AHL Season
As the NHL’s minor professional affiliate, some AHL players appear in both leagues during the season. An interesting detail about the AHL schedule is that 24 of 31 teams play 76 games, while the league’s seven Pacific Division teams play 68 games.
The AHL also has a prized possession – the Calder Cup – awarded at the end of its postseason. Round one begins with a best-of-three series, followed by three best-of-seven matchups, meaning the AHL’s champion will play between 83 and 102 games.
Number of Games in a KHL Season
Many people regard the KHL has the world’s second-best hockey league behind the NHL, remaining a prevalent threat in keeping homegrown Russian talent and other European players. All of its 24 teams play in 62 games throughout an entire season.
Similar to the NHL and AHL, a 16-team playoff tournament commences after the KHL’s regular season. To hoist the Gagarin Cup, the KHL’s championship-winning team must come out on top in four best-of-seven series along the way, playing 78 to 90 games.
Number of Games in a European Season
There are several professional hockey leagues across Europe, such as the SHL in Sweden. In this league, all 14 teams play 52 games during the season. The top 10 teams qualify for the postseason, playing anywhere between 64 and 76 games.
Another major league in Europe is the Liiga in Finland, which is known to develop young talent before transitioning to the NHL. Before a 10-team playoff, the Liiga’s 15 teams appear in 60 regular-season games, with the winners playing 72 to 84 total games.
Final thoughts on Hockey Games in a Season
While the number of hockey games in a season varies from one league to the next, it takes a lot of effort to win any professional hockey championship. In the NHL’s case, there’s a reason the Stanley Cup is arguably the most difficult trophy to win in sports.
We hope you’ve learned something new about the number of games in a hockey season, particularly the differences between North America and Europe. If you have any questions about other hockey league schedules, feel free to ask in the comments!