Over the course of a season, there is one thing that no team can avoid: Travel. While each team must play 41 games away from home every season, some teams must travel farther than others simply because of geography. And you don’t need a degree in sports science to understand why teams want to travel as little as possible.
Last week, I threw the Leafs schedule into Tableau to see what I could learn about their travel plans this season. One thing led to another, and the end result was a map of every road trip scheduled for all 7 Canadian teams, accompanied by some travel statistics as well. The viz revealed some fun facts about the Leafs schedule, which I’ll summarize here.
Geography is kind to the Leafs. Toronto is fairly close to many other cities with NHL franchises, leaving them with the lightest travel schedule of all 7 Canadian teams. The Leafs will travel 56,522 kilometres this season, which seems like a high number but it’s actually the shortest total distance of any Canadian team. Even if you account for road trips, the average distance the Leafs must travel between cities (657 kilometres) is the least of all 6 other teams.
However, the Leafs are not exempt from rough patches in their travel schedule. Their most gruelling road trip begins with 5 games in 8 nights, plus a date with Tyler Bozak in St. Louis three nights later. Altogether, the trip involves over 8,100 kilometres of travel for a sequence of 6 games in 11 nights. Here’s what it looks like:
Surprisingly, that’s not even the longest road trip on the Leafs schedule. In terms of distance travelled, that honour goes to a trip that forces them to travel from coast to coast. Literally.
All four opponents on this trip will be tough tests for the Leafs regardless of travel, and travelling across the continent will not make things any easier. The Leafs staff must take extra care of the players on this trip to minimize fatigue and prevent injuries.
Of course, this type of trip is not unusual for teams in cities located along either coast. The Leafs are fortunate because of where they are located relative to other teams, which lends itself well to a favourable travel schedule. There are not many other difficult trips aside from the two described above.
For more information on the travel schedules of the seven Canadian teams, check out the full viz here.