Scheduling Nuance in AHL Compared to NBA

Under normal conditions, the Cleveland Monsters are in the North Division. The following teams are in the North Division along with the Monsters: Laval Rocket (Montreal Canadiens), Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay Lightning), Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabres), Toronto Marlies (Toronto Maple Leafs), Belleville Senators (Ottawa Senators), Binghamton Devils (New Jersey Devils) and the Utica Comets (Canucks). They also play four teams from the Atlantic Division: Charlotte Checkers (Carolina Hurricanes), Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh Penguins), Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers), and the Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals).

Now, the Monsters used to be in the Western Conference. In fact, when they won the Calder Cup in 2016 they were the Western Conference Champions. But even though Monsters have since moved to the Eastern Conference, they still play some of their former conference and division mates. Specifically, they play four of them. The Rockford Ice Hogs (Chicago Blackhawks), Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings), Chicago Wolves (Vegas Golden Knights), and the Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators). In summary, the Monsters play the entire North Division. They play four out of the eight teams from the Atlantic and four out of the eight teams from the Central division. However, they do not play the Pacific division.

In the NBA and NHL, every team in the league plays each other at least twice. You obviously can’t do that in the NFL because that would make the season way too long. That can’t be done in the MLB because the season is already 162 games. When I say that in MLB, I mean playing all of the teams. I understand that in the MLB all AL teams play each other at least twice and every team in the NL plays each other at least twice. But not every team in the AL plays every team in the NL.

There are situations where an NBA and NHL team will play back-to-back games against two different opponents, like the Cavaliers who have a back-to-back coming up on Friday, February 21 and Saturday, February 22. On Friday they’re at the Washington Wizards and Tuesday they’re at the Miami Heat. The next back-to-back that the Columbus Blue Jackets is on February 7 (my birthday) when they host the Detroit Red Wings and then on February 8 they host the Colorado Avalanche. But if you look at the AHL, which is the minor league affiliate for the NHL, they do back-to-backs against the same teams. For example, I was at the Cleveland Monsters game on Friday, January 24 against the Toronto Marlies and then on Saturday, January 25, they played the Toronto Marlies again. Or what also happens is that the two teams will play on Friday, then play each other again on Sunday. Which is what’s happening this weekend between the Cleveland Monsters and Binghamton Devils. The Monsters will host the Devils on Friday, February 7 and then the rematch will be on Sunday, February 9. On February 9, the Cavaliers will host the Los Angeles Clippers later that night. So, it’s pretty interesting that the team at RMFH can change it over in that short amount of time from Monsters to Cavaliers.

So, why does the AHL set up their schedule that way where two teams will play each other in back to back days? Also, why doesn’t every team in the AHL play each other like in the NBA or NHL?

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