Darryl Sutter hasn’t explicitly said so, but he seems flummoxed by the Kings’ schedule, and rightfully so. West Coast travel is nothing new to Sutter, who coached in San Jose, but this schedule does seem a little wackier than usual. There will be, in total 15 sets of back-to-back games, some with some brutal travel. I’m not sure which is tougher, going Stockholm-to-Berlin or going New York-to-Dallas. Before anyone gets the wrong impression, the Kings — and all NHL teams — travel in style, but having a first-class seat on a plane doesn’t make anyone more rested at game time.
This trip is another strange one. A Canadian/northern swing is far from unusual, but the Kings go West-to-East, rather than playing their way back home. The trip ends with a Edmonton-Minnesota back-to-back set that will have an arrival time in Minnesota at 3 a.m. (if not later). That one really, really doesn’t sit well with Sutter, who said, “That’s illegal.’’
Here’s the flip side: part of this is the Kings’ doing. They play at Staples Center, one of the busiest arenas in the NHL. Every summer, teams submit a list of “open’’ dates, and from that list the league slots in home games. The Kings’ list, I’m told, is considerably shorter than most teams’ lists, meaning they give the NHL fewer options in scheduling. That’s part of the reason. That’s the flip side of playing in a nice arena like Staples Center, in a huge market. In San Jose, they don’t have two NBA teams, the Grammys, college-basketball tournaments, etc. No offense, San Jose.