The incomparable Dirk Hoag at On The Forecheck released his NHL Super Schedule today and, surprise, the Dallas Stars are scheduled currently to travel the most miles in the league at 49,851. Compare that to the paltry average of 39,792, or even the laughably luxurious sum of the Philadelphia Flyers: 27,541.
Joining the Stars in the frequent flyer club are the Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets, division mates once more until something changes. The three Western Canadian hockey clubs are also quite high owing to their remote locations.
Whether the air travel physically affects the players or not, the important part might be that they think it does. Here we are with a schedule that should have featured a realigned Stars team visiting Detroit, Chicago, Nashville and St. Louis an additional time each, with fewer flights back from San Jose the day after a game because of the curfew there, and instead we have Dallas with the league's worst travel.
Here's the breakdown for the Pacific Division only.
|Team||Miles||Back to Backs||2011 Miles||2011 Back to Backs|
Dallas travels more miles this year by only 229, about 25 minutes on a plane overall, and gets two fewer back to backs this season than the last, which as we all know is a good thing considering that they won only a single second night of a back-to-back all of last season.
San Jose, somehow, gets just nine back to back sessions and I'm sure they'll gladly trade that for the 2,000 mile increase in travel. Phoenix sees a generous reduction in their miles by almost 9,000, and the Kings drop is due to their international trip to start the season last year.
Do these things matter? Does it matter that the Stars travel the most in the league? Isn't it expected at this point, and another principle argument for them when realignment talk begins anew, whenever that is?
Additional reading: We'll get into this more in the summer when there's time, but NHL Numbers did a piece on jet lag and reference Dallas specifically quite heavily. The numbers with 40 years of data conclude that there's very little measurable effect. Good teams are just good teams. Same story with the mediocre ones.