The schedule has been released, the numbers have been punched, and the totals have been calculated. With a grand total of 34,083 kilometres by air, the Winnipeg Jets are set to become the least-travelled NHL team within the newly-formed Scotia North Division.
After two seasons (2011-12 and 2012-13) of accumulating the league’s most air travel while battling the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lighting, Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals as members of the Eastern Conference’s Southeast Division, the Jets were granted an easier travel schedule through the the club’s 2013-14 realignment to the Central Division.
Despite still remaining as the northernmost team within the Central Division, Winnipeg did see its kilometres-travelled-per-season drop significantly from its first two years back in the fold. With the restructuring of the divisions for the abbreviated 2020-21 hockey season, an all-Canadian division has been implemented. And geographically, Winnipeg sits dead-centre of the map.
Located a mere 12 kilometres west of the official ‘Centre of Canada’ billboard, Winnipeg and its professional hockey team will not necessarily see an easier travel schedule than that of each of its divisional rivals, but the team will spend less time in the air than any other Canadian club.
With one-way chartered flights to Vancouver (2,292Ks), Montreal (2,269Ks), Ottawa (2,146Ks), Toronto (2,074Ks), Calgary (1,333Ks) and Edmonton (1,305Ks), Winnipeg’s furthest geographical opponent in 2020-21 will be less than 2,300 kilometres away. For comparison’s sake, the team with the shortest distance to its furthest geographical opponent is Edmonton, with a total distance of 3,737 kilometres (to Montreal). The average furthest geographical opponent distance amongst all seven teams is 3,997 kilometres (27,987 divided by seven).
Although the single trip from Vancouver to Winnipeg in late-February will be the longest single flight involving Winnipeg’s Richardson International Airport, the Jets will travel further than the distance to/from Vancouver at one point this season (3,635 kilometres from Calgary to Ottawa in early-May).
With Calgary and Edmonton situated just 300 kilometres apart (10 matchups each), as well as Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa all within a 548 kilometre radius (10 matchups between Toronto and Montreal, 10 matchups between Ottawa and Montreal, nine matchups between Toronto and Ottawa), Winnipeg (1,549 kilometre average) won’t actually be the team with the shortest average trip length in kilometres, as both Toronto (1,454 kilometre trip average) and Ottawa (1,533 kilometre trip average) will host lower numbers.
That said, Winnipeg will experience the second-fewest flights of all Canadian teams (22 total flights) just below the 23.43 North Division average. Toronto will lead the division with 27 total flights this season. Vancouver will hit the sky the fewest times (21 total flights). Winnipeg and Montreal will each fly 22 times. Ottawa will have 23 flights, Calgary will have 24, while Edmonton will fly 25 times.
Despite the various outliers, the NHL has done a tremendous job at levelling the playing field in providing a rather similar travel schedule breakdown for each North Division team. By incorporating many stops along the way on road trips for teams based out of the eastern and westernmost locations, the league has been able to cut down significant ‘cabin time’, while also making headway at lessening its carbon footprint, little-by-little.
Interesting scheduling facts:
- Vancouver will travel a division-high 42,315 kilometres
- Nine of Winnipeg’s flights will be for distances greater than 2,000 kilometres
- Vancouver and Toronto will also have nine trips of distances greater than 2,000 kilometres
- Ottawa will have 10 such trips, while Calgary, Edmonton and Montreal will have eight
- Winnipeg will have just one flight greater than 3,000 kilometres (3,635 kilometres)
- The division average of number of flights over 3,000 kilometres will be 5.14
- Every team other than Winnipeg will travel over 3,000 kilometres at least five times, with Edmonton set to do so upon seven occasions
|Average Trip Length||2,015||1,654||1,699||1,549||1,454||1,533||1,593||1,641|
Travel does not include final trip home for teams who end the season on the road.
Travel does include trip from home city to first road city for teams starting the season on the road.
Exact kilometres listed are calculated in flight distance from home city arena to home city arena.
These numbers are based on the official schedule originally released on December 23, 2020, and do not account for postponements/alterations to that original schedule.