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      January 11, 2017

      The NHL's Weird Bye Week Is Pissing People Off

      Photo by Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

      The NHL experimented with something new this season, implementing a bye week for each of the league's 30 teams and it's pissing a lot of people off.

      Through January and February, each club will be granted a designated five-day period where no games or official practices are allowed to be scheduled. In theory, the break is designed to provide a period of rest and recovery to players during the dog days of the NHL, the midseason months where players, historically, are more susceptible to injury and when the quality of play tends to drop.

      Despite the league's intentions for increased player safety, Gary Bettman has already admitted to fielding complaints and backlash from clubs and various players who feel that the condensed schedule will actually have an adverse effect on safety and injury prevention. Never one to shy away from expressing his feelings, Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock was the first to rip on the idea.

      "I think it's 100 percent wrong for player safety," Babcock told reporters a few days ago.

      "You've got so many games in such a short period of time and you're jamming in more. To me, the more days' rest you can have by not playing back-to-backs and jamming it in, the healthier you have a chance to be I believe."

      It's easy to understand Babcock's displeasure with the situation, as the Maple Leafs will play a league-high 18 back-to-back games this season, including three this month. Babcock isn't alone, as other NHL executives are starting to make their frustrations known publicly, including Philadelphia Flyers general manager Ron Hextall, who recently called the break "the most asinine thing I've ever seen."

      "It's driving me nuts," Hextall said. "I hope it is for everybody else, too."

      Though the intention to decrease injuries and enhance player safety across the NHL is the main driving force behind the league's new midseason break, it's drawn plenty of criticism from big names inside the league. It's pointless to some, annoying the others, and for those like Babcock and Hextall who have spoken out, it's obviously pissing them off.

      Hextall is probably not the guy you want upset with you, Gary.

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