NHL realignment occurred, ostensibly, because there were teams getting royally screwed by geography.
How could the Columbus Blue Jackets build a fan base with so many games starting past 9 p.m. ET? Was it fair to have the Dallas Stars aligned with West Coast teams? Wasn’t it time to (finally) cut back on Detroit’s frequent flyer miles?
While many teams would benefit from realignment, some teams were bound to get the shaft.
It would appear that team is the San Jose Sharks, who will travel 57,612 miles in the 2013-14 NHL schedule, according to Dirk Hoag.
If you measure around the Earth, passing through the poles, it’s only 24,859.82 miles around. So the Sharks are going around the world twice with nearly 10,000 left over.
Hoag, editor for On The Forecheck, does a great deed for hockey fans every season when the schedule is released: He tracks the mileage for each NHL team, and reveals which ones have the easiest and hardest roads to victory.
His 2013-14 tabulation was going to be an interesting one because it’s the first under the NHL’s realignment for next season, and the benefits to certain teams are now tangible. For example:
• The Detroit Red Wings, new members of the now-Atlantic Division, will travel a projected 35,324 miles next season, which is down from an average of 41,329 from 2010-2012.
• The Columbus Blue Jackets, new members of the Metropolitan Division, will travel 36,567 miles, down from an average of 43,716 miles from 2010-12.
• The Dallas Stars, now in the Central Division, will travel 46,660 miles, down from an average of 47,933 miles from 2010-12.
On the other hand …
• The Sharks travel a redunkulous 57,612 miles next season. That’s 16,222 miles above the league average. Granted, that’s only slightly ahead of the 56,254 they traveled in 2010-11, but consider this: They’re one of only two teams in the NHL next season that are over 50,000 miles in travel. The other one? The Phoenix Coyotes at 52,633. Four teams were over the mark in 2011-12.
• The Winnipeg Jets, whose travel concerns were a catalyst for realignment, see their mileage increase from 44,627 in 2011-12 to 46,477 next season.
• The New Jersey Devils play more back-to-back games (22) than any other team in the NHL, which is great news for a veteran team (uh … not really). The Carolina Hurricanes are the only other team with over 20 back-to-back games.
(It should be noted that the Sharks and the Colorado Avalanche, two teams with elephantine mileage next season, have the fewest back-to-backs at 10 each.)
Check out Hoag’s work here. And if you get a chance, maybe tweet some Blu-Ray or long-read suggestions to Logan Couture. (Seriously, dude, if you haven’t: The first two and a half seasons of ‘Battlestar Galactica’ are awesome.)