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It’s Blue Jackets schedule time!

By Tom

In case you hadn’t heard, the National Hockey League and the NHL Players Association ratified their new, eight-to-ten year (depending on early opt-outs) collective bargaining agreement.  With the lockout officially over, training camps can open (and will, on January 13th) and the NHL schedule can get released.

And what a schedule it is!

The Blue Jackets are still stuck in the NHL’s Western Conference for at least one more season, and the NHL leaked during the stretch run of the CBA negotiations that the 48-game season was going to be exclusively intra-conference play.  What we didn’t know was that the league was going to put this schedule together over a 99-day period.  This is going to be a LOT of hockey in a very short amount of time.

Should we pass the hat to start a fund to buy throat lozenges for FOX Sports Ohio’s announcing team of Jeff Rimer and Bill Davidge?

Anyway, let’s look closer at the schedule.  After the first of three visits to Nashville on January 19th – yes, that means the team will have a full six days of training camp before the games count – the team opens at home on January 21 against Detroit.  They then fly through January with six games in eight nights.

Then it starts getting hairy.  Including the St. Louis game on the 31st, the Blue Jackets play six games in 12 days at home.  They then immediately flip to six games in nine days on the road.  Which brings me to the most notable part of the schedule: That six-game roadie is one of two such trips…the other being a twelve-day jaunt leading up to the last game of the regular season.

Two six-game road trips…in the course of 48 games over 99 nights?  Wow.

And while I won’t say that the NHL didn’t construct this schedule with Columbus in mind, I did take a gander at the CBJ’s divisional rivals and saw the following:

- The Detroit Red Wings‘ longest road trip is four games.

- The Chicago Blackhawks have one six-game roadie, but they also get a seven-game home stand.

- The Nashville Predators have a seven-game road trip that takes 14 days.  Yow.  Is the circus in town or something?

- The St. Louis Blues longest road trip is five games, and they only do that once.  It’s good to be reigning division champs.

I said that I thought that 2013 was going to be a wild ride for the CBJ.  With the way the schedule looks, it just got wilder.  Hold on tight!

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