Canucks, NHL working to improve travel situation Staff

1/23/2009 4:02:28 PM

The travel resulting from the NHL schedule has long been a point of contention for west coast teams.

Thoughts that changing time-zones and length of road trips took a physical toll have been around for years but now the Canucks have proof.

The club took a very close look at their schedule for the 2008-09 season with some interesting results.

"When we did the Fatigue Management Program this year, those guys predicted where we would have a real problem," explained Canucks general manager Mike Gillis to Team1040 radio in Vancouver.

"And it's not ironic, it happened when we played that three-game segment where we were in Nashville and then went to Atlanta (Jan 1st and 2nd), they predicted that after that we would have a serious fatigue issue because of the number of games we played in the previous ten days and that type of travel and they were bang-on," Gillis told the radio station.

The Canucks are 2-8 in January and have lost six straight. The team believes the slide is due to their travel demands and the NHL seems to agree.

The league has begun to take steps to help the Canucks' road issues next season and Gillis is optimistic things will improve.

"I think we have a great chance. In fact, we've got a draft in place for about 38 of our road games for next season already, which is unheard of," Gillis told Team1040. "They made us a number one priority in terms of travel for a variety of reasons. One of them is injury history, crossing borders, and the fact that geographically, we don't have a team within a couple or three hours of us."

"We feel really good about their understanding now, and that they're prepared to work with us to get a better road schedule in place," Gillis added.

The Canucks currently sit tied for 6th (51 points) in the Western Conference with the Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks. They are tied for 2nd, with Edmonton, in the Northwest Division, nine points back of the Calgary Flames.

In December, the Canucks made headlines by signing free agent Mats Sundin to a one-year deal. While the veteran centre has not hit full speed as of yet he is showing signs of getting back to his All-Star form. He has two goals and one assist over his seven games with the Canucks.

The team also recently got goaltender Roberto Luongo back from a groin injury that caused him to miss 24 games. He is 0-1-2 with a 3.51 GAA over his three games since returning.