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KHL Super Schedule 2013-2014: Taking Hockey Travel to the Extreme

With some teams separated by as much as 5,000 miles, the travel burden faced by KHL clubs is downright absurd.

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I knew as soon as the KHL announced an expansion team in Vladivostok that I had to create a KHL Super Schedule, adding up the total miles traveled by KHL teams over the course of the 2013-2014 season. For years now I've done the same thing for the NHL (check out previous editions of the NHL Super Schedule), but recent additions to the KHL lineup have pushed that league to a remarkable geographic extreme.

Having been fortunate enough to take one year of Russian language classes in high school, one thing I do remember is that Vladivostok was described as roughly translating into English as "furthest East". The new Vladivostok Admiral club, along with fellow Chernyshev Division team HC Amur, is located over 2,000 miles to the east of any other KHL team!

Yesterday the league announced their 2013-2014 regular season schedule, so once I put together a matrix of distances ("as the crow flies") from each KHL team's location to every other team, I was able to build upon the spreadsheets I use for the NHL Super Schedule to calculate the distance each club will travel along the course of their season.

You're Not In Kansas Any More

Imagine you're part of this year's other KHL expansion club, playing out of Zagreb, Croatia. For many road games you'll travel about 1,000 miles to the greater Moscow area, which is home to 5 teams. Then, maybe you head another 2,000 miles east for a road game at Metallurg Novokuznetsk. Feeling like a big-time hockey player, are you?

OK, just hop aboard that jet and head all the way across Mongolia, then add several hundred more miles before touching down in Vladivostok for a game against Slava Fetisov's team. Once you're done, buckle up for a 5,000 mile trip back home!

So yeah, adding a franchise at the East Pole is sure to introduce a massive amount of travel for fellow KHL teams, who play every other team in the league twice during the upcoming season (once at home, once on the road).

So without further ado, let's take a look at the numbers...

Team Travel Miles 1-Game Trips 82 Game Equivalent
HC Admiral Vladivostok 58,462 0 88,776
Amur Khabarovsk 56,322 0 85,526
Metallurg Novokuznetsk 35,506 0 53,917
Sibir Novosibirsk 34,269 0 52,038
HC LEV Praha 33,014 3 50,132
KHL Medvescak Zagreb 32,717 1 49,681
HC Slovan Bratislava 31,556 1 47,918
Barys Astana 27,728 3 42,105
Donbas Donets’k 27,633 3 41,961
Traktor Chelyabinsk 27,120 2 41,182
Dinamo Minsk 26,487 2 40,221
Dinamo Riga 26,231 2 39,832
SKA St. Petersburg 25,800 3 39,178
Avangard Omsk 25,566 2 38,822
Metallurg Magnitogorsk 25,544 0 38,789
Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk 25,015 0 37,986
Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 24,136 2 36,651
Salavat Yulayev Ufa 24,054 1 36,526
Ak Bars Kazan 23,741 1 36,051
Atlant Moscow Oblast 23,197 4 35,225
Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 22,828 1 34,665
Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 22,702 3 34,473
Dynamo Moskva 22,603 0 34,323
Vityaz Podolsk 22,411 10 34,032
Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 22,022 2 33,441
Severstal Cherepovets 21,768 0 33,055
CSKA Moskva 21,628 3 32,843
Spartak Moskva 21,621 5 32,832

Keep in mind that the KHL is set for a 54-game season in 2013-2014, so I've added a column here reflecting an 82-game equivalent for comparison against NHL teams. Along those lines, here are a few observations:

  • Even in just 54 games, HC Admiral Vladivostok & Amur Khabarovsk will travel more than any NHL team in any of the last four 82-game seasons!
  • These travel numbers would be even more arduous were it not for careful management of the schedule. For example, one common issue in the NHL is having teams play on back-to-back nights, with most teams playing a dozen or more of such sets during an 82-game campaign. In the KHL this season, there are only two back-to-back sets in total, and on both occasions, the teams involved (Dinamo Riga & Atlant Moscow) are playing at home on consecutive nights, so there's no travel involved.
  • In addition to the lack of back-to-backs, we don't see many instances of teams making one-game trips (for example - playing at home, then one game on the road, then back home again). That's one way that teams can really rack up the miles quickly, but 8 KHL teams have none of them whatsoever.
  • There are three long breaks built into the schedule that should provide most players a good amount of rest. The first comes in early November, the second from mid-December to just after Christmas, and the third is for the Winter Olympics in February.

So who knows, maybe Alexander Radulov went back overseas for all the frequent flyer miles?