The NHL gets to adjust the schedule after this year and there's a lot different ideas. No one seems to like the current format, which favors divisional rivalries too much and doesn't let every team appear in every city atleast once. In fact, factoring in the lockout, in some cases it'll be five seasons that some teams haven't played in some cities. Considering there's 82 games a year this is inexcusable.
It'd be great if they cut down the regular season a little, but considering owners need money from the ticket sales, and players now get their money as a percentage of what the owners make, guess if that's going to happen. So here's my humble suggestion for the new NHL schedule.
Every team plays a home and home with the other conference (15 x 2 =30 games)
Each team plays their 4 division opponents 6 times: 3 at home, 3 away (6 x 4 = 24 games)
Each team plays their other 10 conference opponents 3 times: 2 home, 1 away one year. flipped the next (10 x 3 = 30 games)
This adds up to 84 games. So the owners and players get a little bit more. Either way, expect the scheduling answer to be short term: they're building an arena in Las Vegas as we speak, and Kansas City won't be vacant for long. Bettman and the owners love the expansion fees, and some will need the $$$.
So the next question won't be how many times to play division or conference opponents, it will be teams like Detroit, Nashville and Columbus bitching about trying to get into the Eastern Conference and the logistical nightmare about how to juggle the setup of a 32 team league.