As the Stanley Cup Playoffs move into their fifth week without the President’s Cup-winning Sharks, one story worth examining through our teal-tinted glasses is the Phoenix Coyotes bankruptcy situation.
Suffice to say the Sharks probably are hoping the Coyotes stay put for at least two reasons.
One is travel and the other is competition.
Logistics first. San Jose is 620 miles by air to Phoenix. As road trips in the Western Conference go, that’s not bad, particularly in this day and age of chartered flights.
When one considers the placement that the Coyotes have played in the Sharks’ schedule the past three seasons, this becomes more obvious.
Of the Sharks’ 11 trips to or including Phoenix, eight have preceded or followed games in Dallas, Anaheim or Los Angeles.
So while a flight to Dallas is longer than 1,400 miles. One from Dallas to Phoenix is about 850. Flights to LA are slightly more than 300 miles. Moving on to Phoenix adds roughly another 370 miles.
Those aren’t Eastern Conference travel numbers by any means, but in a conference full of long flights, a handful of shorter ones are welcomed. This is more important when back-to-back games come into play.
From a competitive standpoint, the Sharks have done well against the Coyotes in two of the past three seasons. Throw out this season’s 3-3 mark vs. the Coyotes, and San Jose has captured 24 out of a possible 32 points in the previous two seasons, easily one of their best records against any team during that span.
Should the Coyotes’ situation drag on through the summer, travel and competition could become minuses for the Sharks rather than pluses.
If Jim Balsillie is allowed to purchase the franchise and move it to Southern Ontario, would it remain in the Western Conference? (Remember, the NHL made the LA Kings and the Oakland Seals play in divisions with Eastern teams for several seasons.)
If the relocated franchise remained in the Western Conference, an advantageous travel situation suddenly becomes a disadvantage for the Sharks. If the relocated franchise moves into the Eastern Conference and the West goes with a more unbalanced schedule, that also isn’t a good thing from the Sharks’ perspective because the West becomes an more difficult conference without one of its bottom-feeding teams.
From competitive standpoint, what if the Coyotes had a deep-pocketed owner who could acquire free agents to complement their impressive stable of young talent? If the franchise played with a roster that was closer to the salary cap than the salary floor?
Some things for Sharks fans to consider during this disappointing offseason.
Know this, the Sharks are better off with the Coyotes staying right where they are.