The Winnipeg Jets were set to change divisions after a nightmarish season of high-mileage travel in the Southeast. The added miles were reflected in Winnipeg’s miserable road record last season. Unfortunately, disagreements about NHL realignment and ultimately the 2012-13 lockout put plans to escape Floridian hockey on ice and left the Winnipeg Jets with the most demanding schedule in the Eastern Conference.
With just 14 road wins last season, the Winnipeg Jets missed the playoffs despite being in the mix until late in the season. Their home record of 23-13-5 was better than three of the eight playoff teams in last year’s Eastern Conference, but against impossible travel requirements the Jets inevitably faltered. History seems poised to repeat itself in 2013; Through their first ten games, the Jets have just one win in five attempts on the road.
There are no benefits of a shortened season in terms of travel for the Winnipeg Jets. Because Winnipeg’s neighbors in the Western Conference have been eliminated from their schedule, the Jets must play a greater percentage of their schedule against divisional rivals that require distant international travel to the furthest corner of the United States.
Despite a playoff-caliber roster, the effects of the NHL lockout and being lost in the Southeast division will likely derail the Jets’ second season in Winnipeg unless they can overcome incomparable travel conditions. As talented as the Jets may be, competing for a playoff spot will be extremely difficult until the NHL places this franchise in an appropriate division, lessening their travel requirements and eliminating their competitive disadvantage that has inexplicably carried through two NHL seasons.