Between the draft, the trade market and free agency, the NHL schedule gets released at such a hectic time in the off-season and as such may not have been given a truly proper examination. Now that we find ourselves with all the time in the world in the form of about 60 hockey-news-less days, let's take a closer look with the pending realignment as a backdrop.
It's no secret that those of us beholden to Western Conference teams like to point at the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers joke of a travel schedule as a perk of playing in the East. Does it really matter? The Stars may not be leasing the same Tom Hicks era plane as they were with "Dallas Stars" emblazoned on the side, but the accommodations are known to be quite nice. Comfortable sleep and refreshing food and beverage are said by those who have witnessed such things to be easy to obtain.
Only the players can say for sure, but (for example) the Devils travel 28,000~ miles and the Kings travel 55,000~. There's got to be a palpable effect in there somewhere.
The Stars travel is up a little this year, and they rank 5th overall, but would be 3rd if not for the European starts for both SoCal teams. Winnipeg, in the Southeast Division, travels less than the Dallas Stars. All data credited to Dirk Hoag of On The Forecheck who completes this very excellent project every year...
|Dallas Stars Travel||Total Miles||# B2B's|
Two more back-to-backs this year and about 5,000 additional miles has the Stars travel burden increasing all around, but neither are as bad as the 2008-2009 campaign. 5,000 miles spread over and 82 game season doesn't sound like all that much, but again, you compare the overall numbers to a club like Toronto (32k miles) and you wonder what the difference would be like to the players.
Incidentally, the Stars are credited here with a 2,450 mile trip from Los Angeles to New York, accounting for much of the increase.
A switch to the Central for the Stars persists in the league rumor mill. Will such a switch be a boon for the Stars outside of television ratings? Dirk calculates mileage to Southern California for Dallas as a little over 1,200. For Phoenix it's about 900 and San Jose 1,450.
To Chicago it's 800. To Nashville about 600. To Minneapolis, 864. St. Louis is close, of course. Winnipeg would stand as a comparable trip to San Jose. Are the differences enough to outweigh the added benefit of the LAK to ANA "trips" or the occasional two consecutive games at the Pond as we've seen over the years? Is the flight from Nashville to Chicago on a "Central Division trip" that much easier than Los Angeles to San Jose? (No, not really) Or is it the time zone that makes all the difference?
The other Central Division teams are all in the very middle of the mileage list. Would the Stars disadvantageous southern locale prevent them from tallying similar numbers? Is there truly a good fit for Dallas geographically?
We'll eagerly await a potential move to the Central and answers to all of these questions, but one more (final?) swim through the Pacific is in order first, and earlier television start times will be fun to think about the next time a shootout at Staples takes us into the wee small hours of the morning.