NHL Realignment: Florida Teams Will Add Travel While Western Teams See Some Balance

Travel was one of the big concerns as we debated NHL realignment, especially for Western Conference teams. As it stands under the new four-conference system, the league will see a bit more balance when it comes to travel.

Dirk Hoag at SB Nation's Nashville Predators blog On the Forecheck crunched the numbers on the league's new alignment. Teams will play five or six games against other conference opponents, while a home-and-home will be played against each opponent from other conferences. Taking that into account, here's the breakdown:

Central Conference Avg. Dist. West Conference Avg. Dist.
Chicago Blackhawks 434 Anaheim Ducks 743
Columbus Blue Jackets 524 Calgary Flames 875
Dallas Stars 846 Colorado Avalanche 886
Detroit Red Wings 530 Edmonton Oilers 1008
Minnesota Wild 557 Los Angeles Kings 737
Nashville Predators 549 Phoenix Coyotes 812
St. Louis Blues 460 San Jose Sharks 745
Winnipeg Jets 863 Vancouver Canucks 895
AVERAGE 595 AVERAGE 838
East 1 Conference Avg. Dist. East 2 Conference Avg. Dist.
Boston Bruins 637 Carolina Hurricanes 366
Buffalo Sabres 535 New Jersey Devils 173
Florida Panthers 1087 New York Islanders 191
Montreal Canadiens 617 New York Rangers 177
Ottawa Senators 576 Philadelphia Flyers 164
Tampa Bay Lightning 1013 Pittsburgh Penguins 289
Toronto Maple Leafs 553 Washington Capitals 195
AVERAGE 717 AVERAGE 222

Travel is still obviously very easy for the teams in the mid-Atlantic U.S., and that's really to be expected with how the teams are in close quarters there. The teams in the old Northeast Division will see much more travel, but considering a good chunk of that extra travel will be to sunny Florida, they don't really get to complain. 

The Panthers and Lightning might get to complain, but they get plenty of home games against the Canadiens and Maple Leafs to fill their seats. Money always mitigates concerns, and it's not as if they're traveling outside of their own time zone for those games anyway. NHL players getting on planes isn't exactly like you and I getting on a plane.

Detroit and Columbus might still be playing outside of their own time zone, but the travel for them is certainly much easier, with less trips out to the far reaches of the Western half of North America. Travel is still tough for teams way out West, but that's really just a fact of life for everything in the Western portion continent.

Things are spread out there, and there's nothing the NHL's Board of Governors can do about basic geography. 

For more coverage of NHL realignment, stick with this StoryStream

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