Three Years After the Alignment – Are Road Trips Travel-Friendly for the Bolts?

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Since the Lightning is on a road trip, and because I heard an interview with Alex Killorn where he mentioned the lengthier travel for Florida teams, I thought I’d re-visit the NHL realignment that began with the 2013-2014 season.

We now have three full years of history under it. In the Eastern Conference, the Lightning and Panthers ended up with more travel than other teams in this conference. Carolina and Washington are not in our division anymore. Also, the Canadian teams in the east, which require going through customs, are all now in the same division, the Atlantic Division, with the Bolts.

Generally, the Eastern Conference teams do not travel as much as the Western Conference, but the Metropolitan Division in the Eastern Conference has the least travel. With the changes, their division games seem to be close enough for them to walk to games!

A few other changes were made. Winnipeg, which had been relocated from Atlanta, was moved to the Western Conference. Detroit and Columbus became Eastern Conference teams. (On a side note, the playoff brackets were changed to include wildcards. And the number of times teams play each other was revised. The most notable change is probably the one where a team now plays each team in the other conference twice, so this affects all teams).

The league reportedly told Steve Yzerman that they would minimize the impact of the travel by designing the schedule to be "travel friendly" for the Bolts, especially in relation to Canadian trips. The plan was to play multiple teams during a single international road trip. Playing multiple teams was standard already for western trips. At least with a private plane, going through customs does not involve standing in lines like it does in the main airport.

Is it "travel friendly"? It has been three years and we are heading into the fourth year. I decided to take last year and the upcoming schedule and review them. My "travel friendly" review also did not take into consideration the actual frequency of back-to-back games, since this is league-wide, due to a condensed schedule.

I found a few domestic trips, other than the Panthers, where the Lightning flew to just one city for a game and then back home (Washington Capitals on Nov. 27, 2015). I did not check other teams’ schedules but I will assume that this is something that can’t be helped at times when trying to schedule.

I focused mainly on efficiency of the Canadian trips in the Atlantic Division last year and the upcoming year. Did they keep travel to a minimum by playing more than one team on a road trip to Canada?

Generally, I think they did. Here are the road trips that I would rate as exceptions:

December 14, 2015


December 15, 2015


December 18, 2015


In 2015, they had a trip to Canada for only one game and it is the second of back-to-back games. Granted, Columbus and Washington are not long distances to/from Toronto.

March 13, 2016


March 15, 2016


March 17, 2016


March 19, 2016


For 2016, they had a trip to Canada for only one game. Then Toronto to Dallas?

March 13, 2017

New York (Rangers)

March 14, 2017


This season, they have a trip to Canada for one game, again the second of back-to-back games. The flight is from New York.

I can’t even imagine putting a schedule together for thirty teams and making all the pieces fit.

But what do you think? With the Hurricanes and Capitals removed from our division, and the Atlanta Thrashers in Winnipeg now, do you think the league kept their word when scheduling efficient road trips?

This post was written by a member of the Raw Charge community and does not necessarily represent or express the views or opinions of Raw Charge staff.