Several members of the Flyers’ front office will meet Wednesday with an NHL official, trying to work with the league to reduce the amount of back-to-back games the team plays next season and improve its overall schedule.
The meeting will take place at the team’s Voorhees practice facility, and Flyers chairman Dave Scott, general manager Chuck Fletcher, and assistant general manager Barry Hanrahan will be among the executives conferring with Steve Hatze Petros, the NHL’s long-time schedule maker.
The Flyers will play the most back-to-back games (17 sets) in the league this season and, according to mathematician Micah Blake McCurdy, play more “tired” games (eight, based on back-to backs or three games in four nights) against rested opponents than any NHL team.
“We’ve got to get it right,” Scott said during an interview Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center “One of the challenges with this building is that it has so much activity between the Flyers,the Sixers, 59 or so concerts and Disney on Ice.”
For years, Disney on Ice has forced the Flyers to play on the road after the holidays, usually in California. The Flyers are 3-15-4 in their last five holiday road trips, including 1-4-1 this season.
Disney on Ice has a long-term deal with the Wells Fargo Center. Scott wouldn’t say the length of the contract, but that it runs at least through 2020.
“It’s got to be Flyers first, whether its the family shows, the concerts and Sixers,” Scott said of the Wells Fargo Center scheduling. “I’m not sure exactly what we’re going to do, but I’m committed to do whatever we need to do to make it easier on hockey operations.”
The Flyers started this season in the Czech Republic, returned for their home opener against New Jersey, then headed the Western Canada for three games. The brutal schedule was underway.
“We’re trying to find out what we need to do from the league,” Fletcher said recently. “Are we not giving them the right dates? What do they need from us to create a better schedule or create some situations that are a little less onerous on our players. There’s probably things we need to do better in terms of date submission. It’s a little bit more difficult because we share the building with the 76ers."
Scott said Fletcher has “collected a lot of data” to present to the league Wednesday, demonstrating the team’s scheduling woes. “There’s nothing like good facts,” he said. “We don’t want to just look at this year but the last three years; there have been a lot of back-to-backs.”
Scott, who doesn’t expect the league to make any quick decisions, said the Flyers may have to alter their home schedule to avoid playing so many back-to-back games. One possibility, he said, is to play more Monday games at the Wells Fargo Center in the future if it prevents having so many contests on consecutive nights.
“The good news,” Scott said, “is the travel gets a little easier” over the Flyers’ last 32 games this season.
Next season’s schedule will be released in June.