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How the "Hamilton Coyotes" would impact NHL travel

Last month, Jim Balsillie's legal representative Richard Rodier stated quite confidently that if he is successful in winning the auction for the Phoenix Coyotes, the team will immediately relocate to Hamilton, Ontario for Opening Night of the upcoming regular season:

That's part of our relocation application — the arena's ready to go, pretty much. It will be ready to go for the first game of the regular season, without a doubt. ... I'm optimistic that the team will be playing in Hamilton in October.

We all know this to be laughably absurd in terms of its impact on the rest of the league, but exactly how much so? Thanks to a prompt from Buddy at Preds on the Glass, I've plugged a hypothetical "Hamilton Coyotes" into my NHL Super Schedule to see how a relocated team which remains in the Pacific Division would influence the travel burden on various teams.

First, let's take a look at the overall mileage totals, showing current numbers, a hypothetical mileage with the Coyotes in Hamilton, and the difference by team:

 Team 2009-10 Miles Hypothetical Diff
  Anaheim Ducks 49068 58684 +9616
  Atlanta Thrashers 37768 37768 0
  Boston Bruins 34969 33611 -1358
  Buffalo Sabres 25911 25903 -8
  Calgary Flames 55331 56862 +1531
  Carolina Hurricanes 38360 38360 0
  Chicago Blackhawks 43417 43859 +442
  Colorado Avalanche 43405 48302 +4897
  Columbus Blue Jackets 40410 41643 +1233
  Dallas Stars 51182 52577 +1395
  Detroit Red Wings 42477 41978 -499
  Edmonton Oilers 49191 52299 +3108
  Florida Panthers 47873 47873 0
  Los Angeles Kings 45682 55201 +9519
  Minnesota Wild 43599 43108 -491
  Montreal Canadiens 38029 35338 -2691
  Nashville Predators 39749 37275 -2474
  New Jersey Devils 31340 30268 -1072
  New York Islanders 31550 29999 -1551
  New York Rangers 33615 32543 -1072
  Ottawa Senators 34338 37963 +3625
  Philadelphia Flyers 29087 31443 +2356
  Phoenix Coyotes 49707 63078 +13371
  Pittsburgh Penguins 29691 29691 0
  San Jose Sharks 46415 56375 +9960
  St. Louis Blues 44971 45760 +789
  Tampa Bay Lightning 37722 38809 +1087
  Toronto Maple Leafs 32313 32313 0
  Vancouver Canucks 48221 49627 +1406
  Washington Capitals 33561 33561 0
  Average 40782 42069 +1287

Besides seeing the Coyotes leap to the top of the league in travel miles, three other teams in the Pacific Division (Anaheim, Los Angeles, and San Jose) face 20% jumps, while Dallas doesn't get hurt quite so much.

The really insane part comes with some of the back-to-back situations that would be created. The "Hamilton Coyotes" would, on 12 occasions, host a team which has played the previous night, and had to travel more than 1,000 miles to Copps Coliseum. The most egregious examples?

  • The Anaheim Ducks would host Vancouver on Friday, October 30th, then zip over a mere 2,139 miles to play the Coyotes on Halloween. Just two months later, they'd get to make a similar jump from Colorado to Hamilton (1,315 miles) which includes a 2-hour shift from Mountain to Eastern time.
  • The Philadelphia Flyers would have a five-game western road trip interrupted by a diversion to Hamilton. After playing at the Kings and Sharks, an overnight flight from San Jose (2,233 miles) would have them playing the Coyotes on Saturday, November 21, then head back west to Colorado for a Monday date with the Avalanche.
  • For the San Jose Sharks, all three of their road games against the Coyotes would come after playing a game in California the night before.  They would have to travel over 2,000 miles to Hamilton to play the Coyotes the next night, and also lose 3 hours due to the time zone change.

The NHLPA would have an interesting decision on their hands (if they had a solid leader, that is). Do they take issue with such an immediate, forced relocation of a team, which is not just disruptive to the lives of the Coyotes, but would set up some truly awful travel situations for a number of other squads?