The NHL has set into place a realignment for this year only due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. While the league did their best to realign divisions geographically to minimize distance traveled, it has created a potential problem with starting times of games. This is particularly the case for the St. Louis Blues.
In fact, last week there were no starting times listed for the St Louis Blues when their schedule was released. They are in the West division that includes the Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Star, San Jose Sharks, and Vegas Golden Knights. Therefore, of the Blues’ 28 road games, a whopping 24 of them will be in the Mountain and Pacific time zones. Clearly this is less than ideal, particularly for the dedicated fans, many of whom likely can’t stay awake for the duration of most of these games. St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong is hopeful the league will work the organization to try and schedule earlier starting times and perhaps some late afternoon games.
What Armstrong is saying is doable, considering the fact that the Blues have a total of nine weekend games on the schedule. They also have four games against the Wild in the Central time zone. Therefore, that leaves about half of their road games scheduled in the Western and Mountain time zones during the week. There is the potential that all 15 of those games would start as late as 9:30 PM central time, greatly affecting the number of fans that could watch the games. There is a great number of dedicated fans in the St. Louis area, but that would reduce the audience.
Doug Armstrong has indicated that he doesn’t have a problem with the numerous games scheduled for the West coast. He understands the situation is temporary and it was impossible for all teams to be in the correct geographic area after assignments to the divisions. The initial jet lag will not be an issue for the team since the flights are quite short.
The way the schedule is set up, games will be played in blocks to limit the amount of travel, which in theory, reduces the amount or potential exposure to ovid-19. Coach Craig Berube believes the schedule is doable after an initial adjustment period due to the travel. Once out west, the St. Louis Blues will likely play chunks of games before traveling again, so the adjustment period shouldn’t be difficult. After all, this is only for one season and it’s for the best of the league and the health of everyone involved.