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How Travel Out West Is ‘Drastically Different’ Compared To The East

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There are quite a few Western Conference teams that have a brutal travel schedule, but could the Colorado Avalanche have it worst of all in the NHL?

The only team in the US in the same time zone as the Avalanche is the Arizona Coyotes…occasionally. Because Arizona doesn’t observe Daylight Saving Time, that might not be true depending on when the Avalanche travel there. Outside of that, the only teams in the same time zone are up in Canada, so you’ve got customs to deal with and a pretty long flight.

The idea behind this whole article started back in early November. I was having a chat with Miles Wood, who had spent his entire career in New Jersey, about adjusting to the Western Conference. He was quick to admit that the travel difference is huge, as there’s a lot of bus rides and train rides in New Jersey. Ross Colton said a lot of the same, and mentioned that the travel isn’t the toughest part, but rather the constant time zone changes.

With the Avalanche coming off a big Eastern Conference road trip, and with them about to embark on another one, I thought this was as good a time as ever to put this out. I’m fascinated by little details like this that we often overlook, so I wanted to ask more players. We know there are some players and coaches that choose where they play based on ease of travel and things like that, so it is important.

Over the last few months, I’ve talked to members (and former members) of the Avalanche who have played in both conferences about how different the travel is, what tools they use to recover, and even what hobbies they’ve picked up. Here’s what they had to say.

Jack Johnson

On the difference in travel:

“It’s drastically different. It’s a huge difference. You’re getting in at 2-3 AM quite often, versus getting home at midnight or 1 AM. So yeah, it’s a big difference. If you’re in the East, there’s a lot of 30-45 minute flights. Out here, I don’t think we have a flight under 1:45. It makes a big difference, plus the time changes.”

On recovering from long trips:

“You just hope that whatever organization you’re in is conscious of it, knowing that you’re probably not going to get eight hours of sleep if you have an early practice, then you’re kind of shot the next day, then you’re trying to play catch-up. Teams have to be conscious of it. The only time you recover is when you’re sleeping.”

Alexandar Georgiev

On the travel:

“I tried not to focus on that too much last season. I think it was quite good that the long road trips last year were combined, so we didn’t have many long road trips, then come back for one game. I felt like every trip was more or less 2-3 games at a time.”

Pick up any new hobbies?

“Not really new hobbies. I mostly listen to audiobooks. I’ve got my iPad, so I tried to load some movies when it’s a little longer time, so try to watch a movie or a show. Time flies by pretty fast.”

What tools do you use to recover?

“I noticed quite a few guys used a lot of recovery tools on the plane. Try to make use of the time well. Compression pants. We’ve got the things that stimulates the muscles, so I tried to put those on as well. It’s pretty simple. I basically put those on and let them work. Every little bit helps, especially when the schedule started ramping up. I think it definitely helps.”

Ryan Johansen

On the travel difference between conferences:

“Crazy different. You were in your bed no later than 12:30 AM, basically, most of the year (in the East). Then, obviously, this is different travel out West. But I like the West more. I like the travel. I like the time on the road with the guys, and the long flights. I enjoy those moments.”

On what hobbies he has on flights:

“My favorite hobby is still the same – it’s taking cash from the guys.”

Johansen on the recovery tools:

“It’s amazing how far we’ve come compared to when I first got in the league. Just things where you can stay ahead of it, with travel, jet lag, time change, all those things, especially with the focus we need to have on that as well. We have a lot of things we like to use.”

Jonathan Drouin

On the travel difference:

“I was pretty fortunate to be in Montreal. You’re always sleeping pretty early, or if you have a game, you’re coming home at 12:30, or 1. It’s been different here, especially with the time change you get sometimes, and airport is a little far too, so it’s a long drive to get around. Getting used to it, but it’s definitely been a change.”

Drouin on advice he was given to recover:

“It’s compression pants, stuff like that. Even the (compression) socks on the plane. Like I said, (in Montreal) you’d have 45 minutes to an hour flight, so guys wouldn’t even put them on. You’re up in the air and then you’re down. Just like last week (in November), it’s almost three hours just for one game. You come back around 2:30 AM, it’s pretty different. It’s a little bit weird for me.”

Drouin on new hobbies:

“I used to play cards. I’m not on the card table on this one because I lost. Cards usually make the flights go quicker. I play cards on my phone now, and I’ll try to download some TV shows.”

Tomas Tatar (yes, Tomas Tatar) on travel difference:

“It is (big), especially the time zones changing. For example, we go to Vegas, there’s a different (time zone). In the East, it’s hour flights, you’re still in the same time zone, but it’s a part of the game. It is what it is. You’re visiting cities like Vegas, so we can’t complain. I would say it’s a little tougher.”

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