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Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

Hockey on the fly: the 30-game road trip

Posted by Ron Opher On March 11

Andre Delsol is about to embark on the ultimate hockey road trip. In fact, ‘Hockey on the Fly’ is a potentially Guinness Book of World Record-setting 30 city in 29 day tour of the entire NHL, kicking off in Pittsburgh on Saturday and finishing up at the Wells Fargo Center on April 9th.

Let’s learn more about how this came together and what Andre Delsol hopes to experience in his time on the road in Ron Opher’s interview.

PhillyPhanatics.com: Andre, I wanted to start by asking you to share with us your relationship with hockey as a fan.

Andre Delsol: It started as a kid in the mid 90’s in Colorado, where I grew up. As the Avalanche was getting better and ultimately winning Cups, hockey caught on and I fell in love with the sport.

I made it my goal to work in hockey, which I was able to do for 4 years immediately after college, first with the L.A. Kings, then a year with the Anaheim Ducks and last year with the Dallas Stars – all in communications and public relations.

This year, not working in the NHL, gave me an opportunity to think about a hockey-related project. And I have been to several arenas around the league, both as a fan and for work, and I’ve been keeping track of where I’ve been, and the original thought was that I’d like to eventually get to all 30 NHL arenas.

PP: Kind of like a “bucket list?”

AD: Right – like something that I would do over my lifetime. But then in talking with people, I came to realize that buildings come and go, teams sometimes relocate, and so to do this in a shorter span of time became more appealing to me.

PP: So how did this go from something that you would do over a lifetime to something you would do in a single season, and then all the way to 30 cities in 29 days?

AD: I had some discussions with a colleague of mine, Alex Gilchrist in Anaheim. And then I learned through Alex about a gentleman named Steve Williamson, who did a 30 city in 30 day NHL road trip in 2007.

So there was an opportunity to consider doing this in one less day, by finding a day-night doubleheader in cities that were close enough to pull this off, with games that were not on the “flex” schedule.

This past Thanksgiving, the idea started to take shape. Weighing the downside of not getting to spend a whole lot of time in each city with the time in my life right now that I can do this and limit it to a month, and the opportunity to do something that had never been done before – I decided to sit down and plan it out and see what it would take.

PP: Which cities are you most looking forward to visiting?

AD: Some of it has to do with the building or the city and some of it has to do with the quality of the matchup.

Philadelphia ia high up on the list, because the sports complex area is unique. I’m interested in Calgary as well, where there is a “Red Mile” than you can take a pre-game walk down to the Saddledome.

PP: You also mentioned the games – are there any marquee matchups that you are looking forward to?

AD: Well, it starts off great, with Montreal playing in Pittsburgh and then I head to Washington, where the Capitals host the Blackhawks.

PP: Wow – I almost wonder how you’ll keep the interest up with a start like that!

AD: I do get the Blackhawks again, on March 28th in Detroit.

PP: That’s a blood feud – one of the great rivalries in the NHL.

AD: It sure is, and I’m looking forward to a great game there.

PP: Going back to the schedule, one would think that you would start in Boston and work your way around the northeast and Montreal and Ottawa, and then down toward the southeast and so forth.

But I’ve taken a peek and know that it doesn’t work out that way – tell us how you had to piece this together logistically.

AD: I first had to make a grid of every team’s remaining home schedule. I had a couple of key games that had to happen on a certain day. The last day doubleheader had to be the New York Rangers at 12:30pm at Madison Square Garden and Philadelphia at 7:00pm at the Wells Fargo Center.

Then the domino effect kicked in – there are only 2 NHL games on April 4th, which only had Rangers and Sharks home games, so with the Rangers having to be on April 9th as part of the doubleheader, I have to be in San Jose on April 4th.

There were a bunch of those situations, especially on Monday nights when the NHL schedule is at its lightest. In the end, there were about a dozen games that had to be on that day for that home team and no other. That left the other 18 or so to try to make geographic sense of the rest of the trip.

And I do have to go across the continent 5 times. Which also means that I need stops for games in Midwest cities to make this work, because there are basically no flights after night games by the time I would get to the airport and get through security and so forth. So to go cross-country the next morning with the flight time and especially west to east with the time change, I would be cutting it way too close to get to the game on time. And in order to qualify for a Guinness record, I do have to watch each game live in its entirety.

So, for example, because I start in the East, but have to be at the Staples Center in LA for a Monday night game on March 21st, I scheduled a Sunday game in Minnesota after the Saturday game in Florida. And then after LA, I hit 3 other Midwest cities (Nashville, Chicago and St. Louis) before the Friday night game in Tampa, then work my way back to Alberta via Columbus and Detroit and then after that San Jose game I mentioned, I have a game in Dallas before my last 5 games back East.


click the photo above to see the Hockey on the Fly schedule

PP: I know you live in the LA area now, so at least there will be a laundry or suitcase swap opportunity on March 21st.

AD: That’s actually a significant consideration – and I’m also in Anaheim on April 3rd, so there are two separate trips home – briefly.

(Hear Andre’s take on what we can expect to read about and hear about throughout the course of this trip, including the ‘Arena Ratings’ that he will provide on HockeyOnTheFly.com)

PP: With you being the only person in your traveling party – at least for most of this trip, since I know you are meeting friends and family in some cities – do you expect to speak with fans before and during the games as part of this experience?

AD: Because there could be a difference in the energy in a building depending on a weeknight versus a weekend game, and also the strength of the opponent, I know I won’t get a ‘perfect read’ on my own, so I do intend to speak with fans and hear what they have to say – and I look forward to that.

PP: If I can ask, Andre, what is your budget for this trip?

AD: I am trying to limit this to $10,000 maximum, and right now I am well below that, but the daily incidentals could bring that upward. I have just received a “man grant” of $2,000 from Dockers, which is part of their “Wear the Pants” project, which runs through November 28, 2011. There is still the potential for additional sponsorship and support – whether cash or in-kind, like a place to stay or even a ride to or from the airport – all of which is chronicled on HockeyOnTheFly.com.

PP: That doesn’t sound so bad, about $300 per day for air travel, lodging, game ticket and so forth.

(Hear Andre describe the last day doubleheader which ends with the Flyers hosting the Islanders in the team’s and trip’s regular season finale)

PP: I look forward to meeting you on April 9th, Andre, and wish you well with the trip leading up to that last game.

AD: I look forward to meeting you as well, Ron, knowing that you were one of the first writers to pick up on this story – and the fact that the trip ends in Philadelphia is a bonus.

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20 Responses

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