Rescheduling of postponed Blackhawks games creates logistical headache

With its Olympic obligations completed, which run out over three weeks in February, the NHL now has a window to reschedule its many postponed games.

But the logistical process to get there requires solving a surprisingly complex puzzle. Each team has a varying number of matches, against specific opponents in specific locations, which must be rescheduled. And each arena has a varying number of non-hockey events booked throughout the month of February, which limits the days available to reschedule games.

Considering all that hosting a match with fans entails – ticketing, security, traffic management, parking, hotel availability, food and beer availability, arena worker availability, etc. . – it’s already complicated enough to do so for the matches scheduled since the summer. Organizing games with a month’s notice, especially sandwiched between other events, is even more difficult.

The NHL and its franchises, however, will have no choice but to be flexible. The league began its rescheduling process this week, reaching out to teams to compile a list of opening dates for each arena in the newly opened February 6-22 Olympic window.

A total of 48 postponed games have to be rescheduled league-wide – because of the 50 games postponed so far this season, only one has been caught up and only one more already has a new date set (in March) .

More than those 48 games should be moved to February, however, in order to keep the schedule balanced – the NHL doesn’t want some teams to be largely inactive while other teams with more games postponed are playing regularly throughout the season. month.

Meanwhile, the NHL has also promised teams at least one free “week off” during the window so players can still enjoy some time off to rest and/or go on vacation, Sean Shapiro reported. from The Athletic.

Blackhawks status

The Blackhawks need new dates for three postponed games: at home against the Flames (originally scheduled for Dec. 13), at home against the Panthers (originally scheduled for Tuesday) and at home against the Stars (originally scheduled for Thursday).

The Hawks could also fall into the category of teams seeing extra games move into February, but that’s hard to predict.

The United Center already has six Bulls games, one Christian rock concert and one rap concert booked during the Feb. 6-22 window, crossing eight nights of the slate. The vacant days on which Hawks games could likely be scheduled are February 8, 9, 10, 13, 15, 17, 18, 20 and 21.

The Hawks were already scheduled to return to post-Olympic play with a three-game homestand starting Feb. 25 against the Devils, so extending that homestand to six games seems easy enough in theory.

The complexity of the puzzle facing the NHL emerges, however, when we also consider the situations of the Flames, Panthers and Stars.

The Flames — inundated by a massive COVID-19 outbreak — need six games to be rescheduled, including a trip to Nashville and four home games in Calgary in addition to their trip to Chicago. Their local arena has four junior hockey games and one lacrosse game booked from Feb. 6-22.

The Panthers need three games to reschedule, including their trip to Chicago, a trip to Minnesota and a home game against the Predators. Their home arena has three concerts booked during the window.

The Stars only need two games to be rescheduled — at the Hawks and at home against the Jets — but their arena has four NBA games and four concerts booked during the window.

So where those three teams are in part depends on where the Wild, the Jets, the Predators, the Maple Leafs, the Blue Jackets, the Ducks and the Kraken are, and the spider’s web expands from there.

Jonathan Toews clearly wasn’t exaggerating when he said on Tuesday that the postponements were throwing “everything into a huge mess with our schedule.”

When the NHL will announce its new February schedule remains unknown, but that announcement could very well involve changes to the January, March and April schedules as well.

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