Tag: travel

Patrick Marleau, Mike Smith

Sharks, Coyotes to travel most miles next season


The release of the NHL schedule is an exciting day for fans, but it’s one where teams can look ahead to see how many miles they’ll be logging on the road. For some teams, that means spending a bit more time in airports than others.

Dirk Hoag of On The Forecheck released his annual report on how many miles each team will travel for the upcoming season and if you’re a Sharks player you might want to look away.

San Jose will travel the most of any team next year logging 57,612 miles. Phoenix was second with 52,633 and Colorado third with 49,007. For a frame of reference, the league average this year is 41,390.

Teams that don’t get to complain? Look no further than the tri-state area as the New York Rangers (29,839) and New York Islanders (29,933) are the only two teams with fewer than 30,000 miles to travel.

As for the teams who moved East, Detroit and Columbus are seeing a huge break in travel. The Red Wings will travel over 7,500 fewer miles this season while the Blue Jackets have over 6,200 fewer. Less time spent in airports is a great thing for any team.

As for back-to-back sets of games, New Jersey (22) and Carolina (20) can file their complaints as they’ve got the most in the league while Colorado, San Jose, and Winnipeg all have just 10 sets of back-to-back games.

New York Rangers are racking up frequent flyer miles like crazy

New York Rangers v New York Islanders

The Rangers’ schedule hasn’t exactly been one for guys that enjoy being at home. From starting their season in Europe to not playing their first home game until next week, the Rangers have been the road warriors of the early season. Sure they had a game on Long Island against the Islanders, but that proved to be the Isles’ coming out party in a 4-2 win on Saturday.

While that was a small taste of being close to home, the Rangers’ travels are that more like a piece of lost mail than that of a pro sports team. Andrew Gross of Rangers Rants totaled up their travels starting from their last preseason game in North America in Philadelphia on September 26 up until when they come back home from their swing through western Canada on October 25.

What does the Rangers world tour break down to? 16,032 miles.

Let’s just hope that they’re putting those frequent flyer miles to good use and not blowing them on trips to John Tortorella’s swear jar or to visit Sean Avery in Hartford. We’re sure Rangers fans aren’t happy about the 0-1-2 start to the season but let’s cut them a little slack before they step on home ice this year.

Hurricanes could make playoffs if they survive a potentially disastrous March

Paul Maurice

With the 2011-12 season rapidly approaching, the gang at PHT decided to take a look at all 30 NHL teams’ schedules. Each team’s highs and lows will be studied in detail to give you an idea of what the future might hold for each squad.

Note: Mileage figures via On the Forecheck’s “Super Schedule.”

Carolina Hurricanes schedule analysis

Total mileage: 38,114 (11th lowest in NHL, second lowest in Southeast)

Back-to-back games: 16

Toughest stretches

After opening the 2011-12 season at home against the Lightning (the team that ended their 10-11 season in the same venue), the Hurricanes play six of their next seven games on the road, closing out that tough run with back-to-back games – Oct. 21 against St. Louis; Oct. 22 against Winnipeg.

Things are smooth through November until they run into another tough string in December (although that one is more manageable, with five of six games away from Carolina).

February features a moderately challenging five in seven game stretch, but the last big hurdle comes in March. If they can come out the other side of this gauntlet intact, they might make the playoffs:

March 6: at Washington
March 7: at Buffalo
March 10: at Tampa Bay
March 11: at Florida
March 13: at NY Rangers
March 15: home vs. St. Louis
March 17: at Minnesota
March 18: at Winnipeg
March 21: home vs. Florida
March 23: at Columbus
March 24: at Detroit
March 27: at Toronto

That’s 10 out of 12 games on the road, including a five-game away run to start things off. That dirty dozen includes four sets of back-to-back games to boot. Even if some of those teams were unsuccessful in 2010-11, their fortunes could be very different next season. The mere grind of that run alone could be very harmful, although the flip side is that the Hurricanes could really come together for a playoff run by weathering that storm.

Easiest periods

Their rough beginning to the season is mostly matched by a five-in-six span of home games in late October to early November. November is a mostly solid month, with 10 home games and five road contests.

There are little pockets of opportunity in December or January, though nothing that should make-or-break their 2011-12 season.

Late February to early March is that special chance, though. They play six consecutive games at home from Fe. 20 to March 3, although all but one of those teams made the playoffs last season. Still, they really need to stock up points in that run because those dates are surrounded by road-heavy streaks.

Overall outlook

The Hurricanes complained almost incessantly about certain parts of their season in 10-11. To some extent, they had some reasons to do so, although those tough times were balanced by solid chances to make a difference. Ultimately, it came down to their last game and they blew it. (In case you’re wondering, the Hurricanes close their 11-12 season on April 7 against the Panthers in Florida.)

Carolina’s travel schedule is reasonable and while some of their back-to-backs are placed inconveniently, they shouldn’t have many schedule-related excuses at their disposal if they fall short next season.

Bruins, Canucks won’t blame jet lag in Game 3 after history-making trek

Zdeno Chara
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As we discussed before the start of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, the Boston Bruins-Vancouver Canucks series will require the most travel of any modern finals round and the second most in NHL history. Along with worries of turning off media members with limited travel opportunities, the concern was that one or both of the teams might blame poor performances on the 2,504 mile trip required as the series switches venues.

The Bruins received a nice gap between their Game 7 match against the Tampa Bay Lightning and their trip to Vancouver, likely mitigating most of the jet lag that could have been a problem/excuse if the turnaround time between rounds was shorter. Each squad will face the possible issue in Game 3, however, as they only received the typical 48 window between contests.

Lengthy travel cannot help two teams full of bruised players, but the good news is that both teams dealt with that problem. Neither team seems willing to use the five-hour trip as an excuse if they suffer defeat, either. NHL.com points out that the Canucks might be more used to the rigors of travel considering their playoff experiences (they already were from the Western Conference regular season, in the first place).

Vancouver has already advanced through three long-distances series in the playoffs: Chicago in the first round (nearly 2,200 miles), Nashville in the second round (a little more than 2,500 miles) and San Jose in the Western Conference Finals (about 1,000 miles).

In comparison, the Bruins have had only one series this postseason — the Eastern Conference finals against Tampa Bay — where the journey was more than 1,000 miles.

Canucks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff seemed to brush off the worries, at least from his own perspective.

On Sunday afternoon, after the five-hour plane ride, Ehrhoff said he felt about the same as he would if he didn’t travel that day.

“I don’t think it’s a big factor because both teams go through the same thing,” Ehrhoff said. “The only thing is that we go through it the whole year, we’ve gone through it a bunch of times even in the playoffs, so we know what to expect.”

Bruins coach Claude Julien seemed positive about his players’ ability to deal with jet lag when asked on Sunday.

“No matter what, we’re going to have to battle through it,” Julien said.  “There’s no way around it.  We have to fight through those kind of things. I don’t want to use this as an excuse or disadvantage.  I want us to I guess challenge ourselves to be able to fight through that kind of stuff.”

Despite each team showing a brave face, it wouldn’t be shocking if fans or writers start griping about the travel schedule if one or both seem flat in Game 3. All of those excuses won’t matter once the puck drops around 8 p.m. ET (which you can watch on Versus) tonight, though.

What are the most likely scenarios for Southeast Division realignment?

The MTS hockey arena in seen on Portage Avenue in downtown Winnipeg

With the Atlanta Thrashers moving to Winnipeg, one of the first logistical questions revolves around the Southeast Division and next year’s schedule. The league has stated the Winnipeg Thrashjets will remain in the Southeast for the first season—but after next season, there will certainly be changes coming down the road. For a frame of reference, here are the distances between Winnipeg and their Southeast Division rivals next year:

Carolina: 1346 mi (2166 km)
Florida: 1893 mi (3047 km)
Tampa Bay: 1701 mi (2737 km)
Washington: 1246 mi (2005 km)

Now with the sale to True North completed and confirmed, the question of realignment is no longer “if and when” and more about “who and where.” When realignment goes down for the 2012-13 season, the three most likely suspects are the Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Nashville Predators. Pierre LeBrun has already started asking around about the realignment question:

“But a league source told me recently that the reason realignment is being delayed a year is that the league wants to properly canvass all its governors and get everyone’s feedback on what is always a contentious issue. The Red Wings desperately want to move east. They’re tired of playing most of their games outside of their time zone, and it’s brutal for TV ratings when you’re asking your fans to stay up late to watch most of your road games. Having said that, many Western Conference governors will oppose losing Detroit because of the Wings’ gate power. So then, what to do? I think the league will examine all kinds of possibilities, perhaps use this opportunity to revamp the entire division and conference setup, not just plug in one team for another. There will be lots of talk and ideas leaked in the next 12 months.”

Detroit Red Wings: Detroit ownership has wanted the Wings moved to the Eastern Conference for the better part of two decades. Already in the Eastern time zone, West Coast road trips mean games are starting at 10:00 or 10:30 every night. For opponents, the games at Joe Louis arena start too early for West Coasters during the week. There’s a reason that teams three time zones apart, aren’t supposed to play each other four times per season.

Red Wings’ senior vice president Jimmy Devellano has made no secret of his desire for the team:

“(Realignment’s) going to be a long, tough process. We have our fingers crossed.”

“It’s a lot of wear and tear (on the players),” said Devellano, adding the cost of the travel for the Red Wings is an issue.

“Once in a while (the West Coast starting times are) OK, everybody has to do it. But we’ve had to do it many times. It’s difficult.”

Columbus Blue Jackets: Like the Red Wings, the Blue Jackets are also a Western Conference team stuck in the Eastern time zone. Since the time zone isn’t changing anytime soon, the other option is to switch conferences. Also like the Red Wings, attendance plays a factor in the decision—but for the opposite reason. The Red Wings bring in fans to opponents all over the Western Conference, but the Blue Jackets would love to create a rivalry with the Pittsburgh Penguins who are only 162 miles apart. By starting all of the Eastern Conference games at the same time, the Blue Jackets hope it would help with both building a stronger foundation with their fanbase and also help the ratings for Blue Jackets telecasts.

Nashville Predators: If the Predators were to move to the Southeast Division, they’d be the only team in the Eastern Conference that was not in the Eastern time zone. However, even though the city is in the central time zone, Nashville makes the most sense geographically. Just pull out a map for the best argument for the Predators moving to the Southeast. It makes sense for a team in the middle of Tennessee to play against Carolina, Florida, Tampa, and Washington.

Just how much power does the Detroit organization have with the NHL? It’s understandable that they’d want to move to the Eastern Conference—just like it’s understandable that the Predators and Blue Jackets management would want to move to the East. All would benefit from better start times and improved travel. But if the Red Wings flip, it has the potential to cost most of the Western Conference teams in terms of revenue and exposure. The struggling franchise in Columbus could gain stability from a better schedule. From a common sense point of view, Nashville just seems like the right market to slide into the Southeast Division. Regardless, let the lobbying begin!

Let’s throw this to the readers. If you could shift the Red Wings, Blue Jackets, or Predators to the Eastern Conference, who would it be?