Photo credit: secondcityhockey.com
By Amaury Pi-González
Jonathan Toews is the Canadian-born captain of the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League (NHL). The 31-year-old veteran, whose in his 13th season with the Blackhawks, might be into something. He suggested an NHL schedule with fewer late-night flights and 3:00 AM bedtime. According to Toews, flying a long distance for a lone game day should be replaced with three-game series like in the MLB. Although not totally the same, since in baseball you have a 162-game schedule (81 home, 81 away) and sometimes you play a four-game series.
In the NHL, there are 31 teams (24 in the US and seven in Canada). Aside from teams playing home and away, like the Sharks would go to Los Angeles to play the Kings one night, and the next night, the Kings are in San José to play the Sharks, there’s no such thing as what Toews is suggesting. The total NHL season schedule consists of 82 games for each team (41 home, 41 road).
I asked veteran broadcaster Dan Rusanowsky, the Voice of the Sharks, about Toews’ schedule. Rusanowsky said that it would benefit the Eastern teams more than us, which would defeat the purpose of equalizing the impact of travel. It would also be hard to do it equitably without expanding the schedule beyond 82 games, which I don’t think anyone wants to do. But in the end, Rusanowsky added that the complicated idea is something to examine.
From personal experience, the Toews’ schedule makes a lot of sense. I traveled with the Warriors on their charter and the NBA schedule similar to the NHL as they traveled for one game in each city. At the same time, I have traveled with baseball team charter and the schedule is one that I’ve always called “the-you-can-unpack-your-suitcase-schedule” trip. There’s no doubt it’s easier for players and media to travel to a certain city to play three games than leave, maybe have a day off, and start another three games in another city, than just flying to Toronto on Monday to play on Tuesday, leave after the game and fly to New York to play the following night.
The Sharks will try to end their five-game losing streak this Tuesday when they host Toews and the Blackhawks at SAP Center at 7:00 PM.