Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks Face Lots Of Travel; Time For Format Change?

The 2011 Stanley Cup Finals will be the most-traveled in modern NHL history, behind only the long trek of the Dawson City Nuggets, who traveled from the middle-of-nowhere Yukon Territory to Ottawa, a trip well over 4,000 miles, back in the early 1900s.

In fact, should the Bruins and Canucks push this series to five games, the teams will have each traveled well over 4,000 miles during the series, and that number will only rise should a trip to Boston be necessary for Game 6 and a trip back to Vancouver be necessary for Game 7.

It all begs the question: when there's more than 2,000 miles between cities, as is often the case in the Stanley Cup Finals when East meets West, should the format of the series be changed? 

Presently, all NHL series' are in the 2-2-1-1-1 format, meaning the team with home-ice edge hosts two games, the road team hosts two games and the teams alternate back and forth for the final three games. In minor league hockey, due to financial concerns with the extra travel, they often use a 2-3-2 format, in which the team with home-ice hosts Games 1 and 2, the road team hosts Games 3 through 5, and the home team hosts the final two games.

Obviously, NHL teams don't have to worry about the extra travel expense. They can afford it. But considering the Bruins could travel over 15,000 miles round trip if this series is to go seven games, can the players really afford it? And isn't this something that could take away from the quality of play? Jet lag isn't really a joke. 

A 2-3-2 series format would take over 5,000 miles off the trip in the event of a seven game series. It makes a difference. The NBA uses the format in their Finals, and Major League Baseball uses the format in the World Series.

The only foreseeable downside is that the road team could wind up with home ice advantage should the series go five games. This happened in the 2008 World Series. The Tampa Bay Rays had home field advantage thanks to the American League's win in the All-Star Game, and when the Philadelphia Phillies won the series in five games, they were able to celebrate on their home field, while having played three home games compared to the Rays' two. 

It's unlikely we see a change, and knowing hockey fans, there'd probably be some sort of uproar if anything changed at all. It might be the smart move, though. 

The Stanley Cup Finals kick off Wednesday in Vancouver, as the Canucks host the Boston Bruins. For coverage on the Finals, stick with our Stanley Cup Finals hub, our Canucks blog, Nucks Misconduct, and our Bruins blog, Stanley Cup of Chowder.

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