By HOWARD BERGER
TORONTO (June 22) – It was six months ago this evening that our city was being blasted by an ice storm for the ages. Six months from tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs will have just begun one of the great schedule typhoons in team history.
I haven’t looked at the calendar of every Leafs season, nor will I. But, I traveled with the club for The FAN-590 long enough (1994-2011) to be fairly certain that it never once played 16 of 20 games away from home. That’s the incomparable slog facing the Leafs between Dec. 21 and Feb. 6 of the 2014-15 National Hockey League schedule, released Sunday afternoon. During that span, the club will play nearly half its road games.
THIS WILL BE HOME TO THE MAPLE LEAFS ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY NEXT SEASON FROM THE THIRD WEEK OF DECEMBER THROUGH THE FIRST WEEK OF FEBRUARY.
Here is the portion of schedule I’m referring to:
Sun. 21 at Chicago
Tue. 23 at Dallas
Sun. 28 at Florida
Mon. 29 at Tampa Bay
Wed. 31 at Boston
Fri. 02 at Minnesota
Sat. 03 at Winnipeg
Wed. 07 WASHINGTON
Fri. 09 COLUMBUS
Mon. 12 at Los Angeles
Wed. 14 at Anaheim
Thu. 15 at San Jose
Sat. 17 at St. Louis
Mon. 19 CAROLINA
Tue. 21 at Ottawa
Wed. 28 at New Jersey
Thu. 29 ARIZONA
Sat. 31 at Philadelphia
Tue. 03 at Nashville
Fri. 06 at New Jersey
Yes, intermittent blue lettering above represents the four Air Canada Centre dates the Maple Leafs have in essentially one-quarter of the season. Obviously, where there’s a surplus of road games, there has to be a similar glut of home encounters. And, that occurs between Nov. 12 and Dec. 20, when 14 of 17 matches will be played at the ACC. Problem is, the Leafs almost never dominate at home in the manner of a contending team. If that were to change next season, the club could be sitting in a fairly good spot before the travel crush.
Looking at the schedule, of course, is merely whimsical without knowing the composition of the 2014-15 team and how performance and injury will impact the 82-games. If Brendan Shanahan and David Nonis choose to retain the current Maple Leaf nucleus of Randy Carlyle, Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf, keep an eye on anything beyond the first week of February, when the epic slide under Ron Wilson began in 2012.
The 2-12-0 capsizing that drowned playoff hopes last season coincides with games that begin on Mar. 13, 2015 at Calgary and conclude in the season finale, at home to Montreal, Apr. 11. For the record, the home/road split in the final 14 games next season is dead-even. During the collapse of March-April 2014, it was 7-5 in favor of home dates.
Now, let’s see what happens before the games begin.
The entire Leafs’ schedule is here:
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