Olympics put Canucks on record road grind

The 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver will force the Canucks to take an Olympic-sized road trip next season.

The 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver will force the hometown Canucks to take an Olympic-sized road trip next season.

The Canucks will have an NHL-record 14-game road trip sandwiched around the 2010 Games.

Counting the break the league will take for the Olympics, Vancouver fans will go six weeks without a Canucks home game.

"It's obviously something that is extraordinary for a team to be out of their building, to play that many games consecutively, on the road," Canucks assistant general manager Laurence Gilman said.

"It will be significant and our team will have to be playing well when the trip begins."

The NHL will break for the Games from Feb. 14 to March 1.

Many of the Olympic tournament games, including the men's and women's hockey finals, will be played at General Motors Place, the Canucks' home arena.

Vancouver will play eight games on the road before the Games and six after.

The Canucks play at home Jan. 27 against St. Louis, then go to Toronto for a Jan. 30 match against the Maple Leafs.

Their next home game is March 13 against Ottawa.

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Past Precedent

NHL players did not compete in the Olympics when Calgary hosted the 1988 Winter Games, but the Flames were forced to play on the road for 11 games. The team went 5-5-1 on the month-long swing, but finished the season with 105 points — and the Presidents' Trophy for the best record in the NHL in 1987-88.

The schedule didn't come as a surprise to Canucks management.

Since Vancouver won the right to host the 2010 Games, the team knew it faced an extended road trip.

Gilman and Canuck GM Mike Gillis met with the NHL schedule makers in January in an attempt to reduce the impact of the prolonged journey.

"It was very important for us to stay within certain time zones, to not cross back and forth between time zones," said Gilman. "Fortunately for us, the league was very accommodating."

After facing the Maple Leafs, the Canucks play in Montreal on Feb. 2, Ottawa on Feb. 4, Boston on Feb. 6, Tampa Bay on Feb. 9, Florida on Feb. 11, Columbus on Feb. 12 and Minnesota on Feb. 14.

Following the Olympics, Vancouver has games in Columbus on March 2, Detroit on March 3, Chicago on March 7, Colorado on March 9 and Phoenix on March 10.

Vancouver's longest homestand is eight games, from Dec. 10 to Dec. 26.

'A positive thing for us'

Being based on the West Coast means Canuck players are used to travel.

When Gillis took over as the Canucks GM last year, he commissioned a military sleep expert and had the players wear biorhythm bracelets to measure their waking and slumbering hours during an early-season trip.

The information was used to determine roommate pairings, practice times on the road and optimal flying times.

Gilman said the Canucks won't use the Olympics as an excuse.

"This is going to be a Stanley Cup competing team," he said. "We think this road trip isn't something that is going to affect our competitiveness over the course of the year.

"Our players are going to spend a great deal of time together, so it may very well turn out to be a positive thing for us."