How much does your favorite team travel? Check the NHL Super Schedule

With the release of the 2009-10 NHL Regular Season schedule, a favorite summer pasttime of hockey fans (and some team officials) in many cities is about to commence; whining about the burdens of travel, and how the NHL office has the fix in to screw team XYZ out of a successful campaign. Either there are too many long trips, or too many short trips, or too many time zone changes... it seems like just about any aspect of the schedule is picked on as especially painful.

Over the course of the season, however, which teams truly travel more than the others, and which ones play the most games on back-to-back nights? For the answer to those and other questions, I'd like to share with you the 2009-10 NHL Super Schedule, a freely available spreadsheet that I publish, which includes travel distances between each NHL game, days elapsed since the previous game, etc.

Follow after the jump for a look at the spreadsheet, and an overview of travel and back-to-back totals by team...

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I'll put the summary right up here at the top. We've got year-to-year comparisons of total travel miles (measured as the crow files from one NHL arena to the next), and the number of back-to-back games that are on each team's schedule. Teams with low mileage and back-to-backs are shaded green, and the harsher numbers are shaded pink:

 Team 2008-9 Miles 2009-10 Miles Diff 2008-9 B2B 2009-10 B2B Diff
 Anaheim Ducks 47910 49068 +1158 18 17 -1
 Atlanta Thrashers 42172 37768 -4404 15 16 +1
 Boston Bruins 30865 34969 +4104 16 17 +1
 Buffalo Sabres 30542 25911 -4631 17 18 +1
 Calgary Flames 52941 55331 +2390 14 14 0
 Carolina Hurricanes 37958 38360 +402 14 16 +2
 Chicago Blackhawks 38557 43417 +4860 16 19 +3
 Colorado Avalanche 47889 43405 -4484 8 16 +8
 Columbus Blue Jackets 41305 40410 -895 20 12 -8
 Dallas Stars 51541 51182 -359 15 12 -3
 Detroit Red Wings 39642 42477 +2835 16 13 -3
 Edmonton Oilers 49941 49191 -750 16 11 -5
 Florida Panthers 44178 47873 +3695 12 18 +6
 Los Angeles Kings 44917 45682 +765 15 12 -3
 Minnesota Wild 44083 43599 -484 17 15 -2
 Montreal Canadiens 32128 38029 +5901 13 16 +3
 Nashville Predators 40958 39749 -1209 13 15 +2
 New Jersey Devils 29289 31340 +2051 18 19 +1
 New York Islanders 28126 31550 +3424 17 19 +2
 New York Rangers 34603 33615 -988 15 13 -2
 Ottawa Senators 31828 34338 +2510 16 11 -5
 Philadelphia Flyers 29510 29087 -437 18 16 -2
 Phoenix Coyotes 51233 49707 -1526 16 13 -3
 Pittsburgh Penguins 32277 29691 -2586 13 16 +3
 San Jose Sharks 56111 46415 -9696 14 13 -1
 St. Louis Blues 41248 44971 +3723 19 18 -1
 Tampa Bay Lightning 45812 37722 -8090 16 12 -4
 Toronto Maple Leafs 33240 32313 -927 13 18 +5
 Vancouver Canucks 51206 48221 -2985 11 14 +3
 Washington Capitals 28321 33561 +5240 13 13 0
 Average 40344 40782 15.1 15.1

UPDATE: Corrections made to some teams (Vancouver, Washington, etc.) which have road games on both sides of the Olympic break. Also corrected for teams that went to Europe last year, but those travel miles carried over into the first run of this spreadsheet.

A few notes to consider:

  • The NHL schedule makers should be given credit for not increasing the number of back-to-backs, given the Olympic Break which has to be wedged into the same overall timetable. How'd they do this? Well, there are many more games on the total schedule which have one day off in between (1,359 in the upcoming season, as opposed to 1,250 last year). Just as games after 1 day off have gone up, games after 2, 3, or 4 days off have gone down by a similar amount (682 to 581). So basically the NHL took those longer breaks and compressed down quite a bit, while avoiding a rash of back-to-backs. Kudos to them on that score.
  • We also see a bit less variance in the number of back-to-backs. Last season, Colorado had just 8 while Columbus had 20, while this year the gap runs from 11 to 19.
  • In terms of mileage, it looks like Mike Gillis was successful in lobbying the NHL for relief for his Vancouver Canucks, as they saw a significant reduction in their travel mileage.

The obvious question then is, which team has the hardest or easiest road to travel in the 2009-10 Regular Season? Is it Calgary based on pure mileage, or Chicago which has plenty of flying time, but also the most back-to-backs?

At least now, if you're going to complain about your favorite team's schedule, at least you can do so in an informed manner!

Below is a brief sample of what the spreadsheet looks like. You can access the 2009-10 Google Spreadsheet on your own and download a copy to work with as you wish. There's also the 2008-9 Super Schedule, and the 2007-8 Super Schedule, also via Google Docs, if you wish to run year-to-year comparisons. When you follow the links, you'll get all the columns, which include mileage along with strength of schedule information (various stats for the opponent in a given game). 

Also, if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments, email me (the.forechecker @ gmail.com) or catch me on Twitter (@Forechecker).

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