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NHL and NHLPA talking about reducing number of bye weeks

As NHL teams continue to struggle coming out of their bye weeks, the NHL and NHLPA are in discussions to tweak next year's schedule to avoid competitive disparity.

According to multiple sources, next year's bye week schedule is likely to be limited to two weeks, with half the league taking a bye in each week.

"'There's a certainly a strong possibility that we'll change the way we schedule the bye weeks to the extent we have them next year. The feedback that we're getting from club executives and players has definitely set into our determination in that regard," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN.

It's possible but not guaranteed that the weeks will be divided between conferences. The key, one source said, is that teams coming out of their bye week play other teams coming off a bye to remove any disadvantage.

This season has been the first for the NHL bye week, and teams returning from their vacations have struggled to win games after returning to action.

The Eastern Conference-leading Washington Capitals were the latest team to struggle coming off their bye week, losing consecutive afternoon games to the Red Wings and Rangers last weekend. After the weekend concluded, teams were 4-12-4 in the first game after their bye week.

"It's just catching up to the speed of the game," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "You sort of lose a little bit of your timing." The players were given the midseason bye weeks in return for allowing the league to switch the All-Star format to 3-on-3. If NHL players participate in the Winter Olympics next season, the bye week plan would be scrapped.

ESPN.com's Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun contributed to this report.

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sportsespnwashington capitalsbye weeknhlnew york rangersdetroit red wings
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