A breakdown of the Versus 2010-11 NHL TV Schedule

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Earlier today, our own Joe Yerdon did a great job of breaking down the NBC schedule. You can bet that we’ll be ready to give you extensive coverage of the NHL all year round, but there’s no doubt that those NBC games will be special.

Since we want to cover hockey from all angles, I thought I’d take a look at the Versus TV schedule, too. Here it is in its entirety via the Versus Web site. Feel free to use this to plan your hockey viewing nights this season.

* Versus Exclusive

October
7 — Carolina vs Minnesota, Noon (Helsinki)
7 — Philadelphia at Pittsburgh, 7:00*
7 — Chicago at Colorado, 10:00*
8 — Minnesota at Carolina, 12:00 (Helsinki)
8 — Columbus at San Jose, 3:00 (Stockholm)
9 — Phoenix at Boston, 12:00 (Prague)
12 — Colorado at Detroit, 7:30*
13 — NY Islanders at Washington, 7:00*
14 — Tampa Bay at Philadelphia, 7:00
18 — Colorado at NY Rangers, 7:00*
19 — Boston at Washington, 7:30*
25 — Los Angeles at Minnesota, 8:00*
26 — Buffalo at Philadelphia, 7:30*

November
2 — San Jose at Minnesota, 8:00*
8 — Phoenix at Detroit, 7:30*
9 — Washington at NY Rangers, 7:30*
15 –St. Louis at Colorado, 8:00*
16 — Philadelphia at Montreal, 7:00*
17 — Boston at NY Rangers, 7:00
22 — Boston at Tampa Bay, 7:30*
24 — St. Louis at Nashville, 8:00*
29 — Dallas at Carolina, 7:30*
30 — St. Louis at Chicago, 8:00*

December
6 — San Jose at Detroit, 7:30*
7 — Buffalo at Boston, 7:30
8 — San Jose at Philadelphia, 7:00
13 — Los Angeles at Detroit, 7:30*
14 — Pittsburgh at Philadelphia, 7:00*
15 — NY Rangers at Pittsburgh, 7:00
20 — Anaheim at Boston, 7:30*
21 — New Jersey at Washington, 7:30*
27 — Minnesota at Columbus, 7:30*
28 — Boston at Tampa Bay, 7:30*
31 — Phoenix at St. Louis, 8:30

January
3 — Chicago at Los Angeles, 9:00*
4 — Minnesota at New Jersey, 7:00*
10 — Boston at Pittsburgh, 7:30*
11 — Philadelphia at Buffalo, 7:30*
17 — Los Angeles at Dallas, 8:30*
18 — Montreal at Buffalo, 7:30*
24 — NY Rangers at Washington, 7:30*
25 — Montreal at Philadelphia, 7:30*
26 — New Jersey at Detroit, 7:00
29 — NHL SKILLS COMPETITION — Raleigh, NC
30 — NHL ALL-STAR GAME — Raleigh, NC

February
1 — Pittsburgh at NY Rangers, 7:30*
1 — Phoenix at San Jose, 10:00
2 — NY Islanders at Pittsburgh, 7:00
7 — NY Rangers at Detroit, 7:30*
8 — Buffalo at Tampa Bay, 7:30*
9 — Montreal at Boston, 7:00
14 — Washington at Phoenix, 8:00*
15 — Buffalo at Montreal, 7:30*
16 — Minnesota at Chicago, 8:00
20 — Montreal at Calgary, 6:00 — Heritage Classic (McMahon Stadium)
21 — Washington at Pittsburgh, 7:30*
22 — New Jersey at Dallas, 8:30*
23 — San Jose at Pittsburgh, 7:30
28 — Chicago at Minnesota, 8:00*

March
1 — Buffalo at NY Rangers, 7:00*
2 — Pittsburgh at Toronto, 7:00
7 — Washington at Tampa Bay, 7:00*
8 — Colorado at Minnesota, 8:00*
9 — Chicago at Tampa Bay, 7:30
14 — San Jose at Chicago, 8:00*
15 — Carolina at Buffalo, 7:30*
16 — Washington at Detroit, 7:30
21 — Pittsburgh at Detroit, 7:30*
22 — Washington at Philadelphia, 7:30*
23 — Vancouver at Detroit, 7:00
28 — Chicago at Detroit, 7:30*
29 — Chicago at Boston, 7:30*
30 — NY Rangers at Buffalo, 7:00
31 — Columbus at Washington, 7:00

April
4 — Boston at NY Rangers, 7:30
4 — Los Angeles at San Jose, 10:00
5 — New Jersey at Pittsburgh, 7:30*
6 — St. Louis at Chicago, 8:00
7 — Atlanta at NY Rangers, 7:00
8 — Chicago at Detroit, 7:00

As you can see, Versus is televising a staggering amount of hockey this season. For those of you scoring at home, here are the number of appearances each NHL team is slated to make on the channel (although it’s important to note that these things are subject to change).

Anaheim – 1
Atlanta – 1
Boston – 11
Buffalo – 9
Calgary – 1
Carolina – 4
Chicago – 11
Colorado – 5
Columbus – 3
Dallas – 3
Detroit – 11
Edmonton – 0
Florida – 0
Los Angeles – 5
Minnesota – 9
Montreal – 6
Nashville – 1
New Jersey – 5
NY Islanders – 2
NY Rangers – 11
Ottawa – 0
Philadelphia – 9
Phoenix – 5
Pittsburgh – 11
San Jose – 8
St. Louis – 5
Tampa Bay – 6
Toronto – 1
Vancouver – 1
Washington – 11

So Versus achieved nearly full representation of the NHL in its schedule, with only Ottawa, Edmonton and Florida earning a goose egg in coverage. The teams who received the most amount of games shouldn’t raise many eyebrows, with the Capitals, Penguins, Rangers, Red Wings, Blackhawks and Bruins tied at 11 appearances. Buffalo, Minnesota and Philadelphia aren’t far behind with nine while San Jose’s prominence as a dominant NHL team for the past few years earned them an impressive eight performances.

One other important note is that Versus will carry Canada’s answer to the Winter Classic, aka the Heritage Classic. That game will feature the Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens on Sunday, February 20. As usual, the network will also cover the All-Star Game and its related festivities after the event took an Olympic break last year.

The 78-game schedule marks a 13 game increase from last season, according to Versus. Let it be known that I am delighted by any increase in hockey coverage; the more puck drops fans can see, the better.

Rebuild on hold? Red Wings reportedly eye Girardi, Hainsey, Daley

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For the first time in ages, the Detroit Red Wings missed the playoffs. To some, the sliver lining was that this might send a message to management to truly commit to a rebuild.

Perhaps GM Ken Holland & Co. aren’t quite ready for that.

Look, one or even a couple of potential free agent signings won’t disqualify the Red Wings from going younger. Still, the rumored defensemen they’re targeting aren’t exactly spring chickens.

Three names floating out there are Trevor Daley, Dan Girardi, and Ron Hainsey.

Daley was mentioned by The Athletic’s Craig Custance, MLive.com’s Ansar Khan, and the Detroit Free-Press’ Helene St. James. Khan and Custance both mention Hainsey and Girardi, too.

Even in one-case mentions, the “veteran” theme continues, with Brian Campbell‘s name coming up while forward Thomas Vanek seems like at least a remote possibility to return to Detroit.

Let’s look at the ages of the defensemen mentioned, noting that Daley is older than some might have expected.

Daley – 33
Girardi – 33
Hainsey – 36
Campbell – 38

In the case of Daley and Girardi, you could also argue that each blueliner also has a lot of “mileage” for their age. Girardi, in particular, plays the sort of grinding, shot-blocking style that might have accelerated his troubles with the Rangers.

As great as experience might be, even for a “final push,” this sends a troubling signal. In Mike Green (31), Jonathan Ericsson (33), and Niklas Kronwall (36), the Red Wings already have an aging group of defensemen. Kronwall and Ericsson are dealing with injuries that may hinder them for the remainder of their careers, too.

When you also note that Holland exposed 25-year-old goalie Petr Mrazek instead of 33-year-old Jimmy Howard, the picture isn’t especially pretty.

Maybe the Red Wings can have their cake (push for a playoff rebound) and eat it too (start to transition to youth), yet it’s not necessarily the aggressive move toward a rebuild that many likely hoped to see.

At least there’s time for Holland to prove these early worries wrong.

Note: In other Red Wings news, the team signed Ben Street to a one-year extension.

Blue Jackets sign Schroeder after trading for him

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Not long after acquiring him in a minor trade from the Minnesota Wild, the Columbus Blue Jackets signed Jordan Schroeder to a two-year contract.

The team confirms that it is a two-way deal for 2017-18 and then becomes one-way in 2018-19.

Schroeder is guaranteed $350K for the first year of that contract and then $650K in 2018-19, according to the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline.

The 22nd pick of the 2009 NHL Draft receives a fitting contract: he’s been a “tweener,” bouncing around the NHL and AHL. He hasn’t been able to make much of an impact, Schroeder at least provides some organizational depth.

That could come in handy, as Portzline indicates that Sam Gagner – not so surprisingly – is expected to garner a lot more attention this time around in free agency. Perhaps Schroeder could serve as insurance for Gagner?

NCAA star Spencer Foo chooses the Flames

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NCAA standout forward Spencer Foo decided to sign with the Calgary Flames, as The Sports Corporation and team confirmed. The signing might not be official until free agency kicks off on Saturday, July 1, but he apparently made his decision.

After managing 25 points in each of his first two seasons with Union College, Foo exploded in 2016-17, racking up 26 goals and 62 points. You can see some of his highlights in the video above.

He didn’t go drafted, so this could be a case of another scorer blossoming late.

Foo is an Edmonton native, so playing close to home in Calgary likely factored into his decision. He was connected to the Edmonton Oilers in earlier rumors while MLive.com’s Ansar Khan indicates that his final choice came down to the Flames or the Detroit Red Wings.

Calgary is already classifying him as a RW. Perhaps he’ll be that long-desired fit for Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan? There’s another positive aspect for the Flames, as this might help to soften the blow of giving up a bundle of assets in the Travis Hamonic deal.

The Sports Corporation tweeted out a photo of Foo, 23, in a Flames jersey:

Which NHL teams face toughest, easiest schedules in 2017-18?

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For NHL schedule nerds, Tuesday felt a bit like Christmas.*

On the Forecheck’s Dirk Hoag is mostly retired from hockey blogging, but he still puts out his beloved “super schedule,” and he combined with Alex Daugherty to do a 2017-18 version, which you should absolutely check out here.

Hoag and Daughtery listed all 31 teams’ total miles traveled and also their number of back-to-back games for next season.

Here are the top five teams for most miles:

1. Avalanche – 48,639
2. Flames – 47,931
3. Blackhawks – 47,926
4. Coyotes – 46,856
5. Oilers – 46,815

Note: the Panthers are the sixth-ranked team and face easily the most travel among East teams with 44,395, up from 41,891.

Now, here are the bottom five for travel time:

31: Penguins – 34,041
30: Devils – 34,052
29. Sabres – 34,175
28. Red Wings – 34,759
27. Maple Leafs – 35,689

The Los Angeles Kings tend to be frequent flyers, but not here; they face the least travel of any West team with 39,915.

That’s not the entire picture, however. These teams face the most back-to-back sets:

1 (tied) – Penguins and Senators with 19
3. Hurricanes – 18
4 (tied) Blackhawks, Blue Jackets – 17
6 (tied) Blues, Islanders, Sabres, and Devils – 16

While these teams face the fewest.

1. Jets – 9 (Winnipeg faces 43,296 miles of travel.)
2. Canucks – 10
3 (tied) – Avalanche, Oilers, Predators, Ducks, and Rangers – 11

Oh, and in their inaugural season, the Vegas Golden Knights travel 42,128 miles and must endure 12 back-to-back sets, so they deal with a pretty middle-of-the-road haul.

***

As you can see, plenty of teams see their low travel rates balanced out by high back-to-back game totals. The Penguins are a good example of that.

Then again, some teams just suffer tough draws. As much as conspiracy theorists love to harp on the Blackhawks, they face the third-most travel miles and deal with 17 back-to-back sets.

On The Forecheck’s full list can be seen here, yet they are not the only outlet to do some interesting schedule analysis. Hockey Viz’s Micah Blake McCurdy put together a list of rested/tired games for each team:

Though he also narrowed it down in a way that might make the biggest difference: a rested home team facing a tired road opponent.

Long story short, it’s difficult to really boil down who has the toughest schedule based on one metric. It’s a subjective matter, as you can weigh these “rest/tired” factors, go broad with sheer back-to-back sets, and even lean on jet lag more than anything else.

Still, if you’re the type to wear a tin foil hat, the lists above could really help you cook up some theories about the bad hand your team allegedly drew.

(Opinion: it does seem like Chicago faces more than just salary cap challenges next season, however.)

* – Or whatever holiday resonates. So, Festivus?