Anderson: How the Bruins’ Strange Schedule Affects Fan Experience

( Photo Credit: Steve Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images )

By: Nathan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @nathandrsn

I think every Bruins fan has noticed the very odd schedule that our beloved club has been playing so far this season. After the season opener, they had three days off before their second game. A few weeks later, they had four days off before having almost a whole week off just two weeks after that break, getting five days of rest between games against the Canadiens and Flyers. Most recently, the Black and Gold had another three-day break before starting their Western Canada trip with games against the Canucks, Oilers, and Flames.

The five-day break would be strange by itself, but added to the other lengthy breaks; it is just baffling that the league would schedule the Bruins to have so many days off this early in the season. What makes it even more curious is the fact that the entire league is going to have a two-and-a-half-week break in February in case players end up playing in the Beijing Winter Olympics. When that break was announced, I was extremely excited, as I think most people were because it means we may get to see Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand put on the red Canada jersey, David Pastrnak wear the Czech Republic crest, and Charlie McAvoy is likely wearing the very lame-looking U.S.A. jerseys.

I was also excited about the Olympic break because I thought it would mean there would be fewer breaks during the season. Clearly, I was wrong about that, at least to begin the season. All these breaks early in the season mean that to finish the year, the Bruins will play 30 games in 60 days between March 1 and April 30. In those 60 days, only five times will the Bruins have two days off in a row. That stretch of games could leave the Bruins extremely tired going into the playoffs, something I’ve seen fans worrying about on Twitter. 

For me, the exaggerated breaks have affected my viewing experience as a fan. I have never felt more disconnected from a season than I do this year. Even doing game recaps and other articles here at Black N’ Gold, I’ve found myself having to check to make sure I hadn’t accidentally missed a game because it seemed like so long since the Bruins played. It’s felt hard to get any real momentum with hockey season when the team plays a couple of games and then disappears for a few days at a time. 

I’ve even felt somewhat disconnected from hockey as a whole as a result of this weird scheduling. As a Bruins fan, the team is my gateway into the rest of the league. When the Bruins play, if I’m going to watch the game that night, I put everything else to the side. For that reason, when they don’t play, I take care of the other things I want to do so that I can afford to focus all my attention on the television on game day. I’m rarely turning the TV on to watch two random NHL teams when the Bruins aren’t playing, partially because I can only watch nationally televised games apart from the Bruins. 

I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way, and so I find myself wondering, what was the NHL thinking? Surely it shouldn’t have been impossible to avoid giving one team four breaks of three days or more within the first two-and-a-half months of the season. For a sport that needs to work on growing the game, having teams not play for nearly a week straight doesn’t seem like the best strategy. With that being said, there’s always plenty of content coming from my colleagues here at BNG, including an article by Nathan Strauss right here!

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