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Dallas Stars Enjoy Reduced Travel, Earlier TV Starts Under New Alignment

Earlier division games and a more diverse home schedule with Eastern Conference matchups highlight a host of benefits for players and fans alike under the NHL's new alignment.

Frederick Breedon

Every year Dirk Hoag at On The Forecheck puts together his now famous "NHL Super Schedule", approximating the number of miles each team's charter will fly in a given season and illustrating the supposed burdens of some against others.

Those burdens are endured on luxury airliners with catered gourmet food, attendants that, by all accounts, are fairly easy on the eyes, and big cushy seats only reminiscent in appearance to what most of us know to be typical of ordinary air travel for us chickens.

Yet we do like to discuss the subject, and the Stars have been vehement that their travel has been among the league's worst, owing to their time-zone situation in relation to their (now former) division rivals in San Jose, Anaheim, Phoenix and that other despicable one that really shouldn't be given any free pub or mentions.

Realignment has arrived, and the Stars have received exactly what they asked mall-Santa-Claus for: Central time zone division games. But has it reduced travel?

13-14 Miles 13-14 B2B 11-12 Miles 11-12 B2B 10-11 Miles 10-11 B2B
Dallas Stars 46,660 13 49,622 17 46,244 9

Dallas is a year-over-year winner from the last full NHL season with a nearly 3,000 mile differential in their favor, but over the course of 82 games it may be fair to call the difference negligible.

What makes a bigger difference is that the Stars will enjoy travel that now makes better sense. They'll get back home at more reasonable hours. They'll get more sleep in their own beds. They will have fewer stays and morning flights back.

Even better is that Dallas will start just 6 games this year at 9:00pm or later, down from as many as 12-14 in recent years. That means more eyeballs in big games. That means more young kids that can watch third periods and invest in this team. It should be some small factor in a new deal with Fox Sports Southwest that needs ironing out in the coming months.

Variety will energize these 46,660 miles as well. A trip to Montreal every year. To Pittsburgh and Toronto and Madison Square Garden. The players enjoy visiting these places, and the fans at home like to see these teams. The "menu" has a few more choices this season when looking for mini-plans, and that can only be good for business.

The Stars have the new division they wanted. They have the new look they created. They have the general manager others sought. All that's left now is to just put it all together on the ice and make the playoffs. No problem, right?


-The Red Wings are big winners here, seeing significantly reduced miles, as are the Florida Panthers. Both see reductions from the 2011-2012 season topping 7,500 miles for the year. Columbus also sees a drastic reduction owing to playing in the Eastern Conference.

-The Winnipeg Jets and the Colorado Avalanche both have just 10 back-to-back sets, compared to 13 for Dallas. That's not one, but two division rivals with THREE fewer "scheduled losses" on their plates. Is that the difference between making the playoffs and not? Probably a bit (way) over-dramatic but it's never too early to scoreboard watching.

-Meanwhile the New Jersey Devils have... TWENTY TWO back-to-back sets? Were this the case in Dallas I believe my dismay would be conveyed rather publicly in this space in a most uncouth manner. Any complaining from Devils fans/staffers is justified. That's an awful disadvantage.

-More on back-to-backs... Three years ago the Stars had nine. The year after that they had 17. This year they start the season, after two games in three nights, with a FIVE day break, followed by THREE back-to-back sets in little more than two weeks time. I am positive there are rational reasons for this. I doubt I'll ever have the information I need to fully understand them.

-"Metropolitan Division." Really?

- Mike Heika has the scoop on the Stars' new variable and dynamic seat pricing, including the list of the "Premium" games which includes, as you might expect, Modano night, Chicago and Detroit home games, and New Years Eve. Check it out at the Dallas Morning News.