Looking at the 2021-2022 schedule for the Cleveland Monsters, there were two
common trends throughout the season:
1. They would play the same team, such as the Rochester Americans, on back-to-
2. They don’t play every team in the American Hockey League (AHL)
When you look at the NBA, NHL, and MLB (beginning in 2023), every team in the league
plays each other. This stipulation should apply to the AHL as well. As much as I would love for Cleveland to get an NHL team, it’s not going to happen anytime soon, so in the meantime, fans here in Cleveland should get to see the other teams from across the AHL.
Before the start of the 2018-2019 season, the Columbus Blue Jackets affiliate moved
from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference and got placed in the North Division, joining the Utica Comets (New Jersey Devils), Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay Lightning), Laval Rocket (Montreal Canadiens), Belleville Senators (Ottowa Senators), Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabres), and the Toronto Marlies (Toronto Maple Leafs). The number of games played between each division opponent is unbalanced.
The Monsters also play four teams from the Atlantic Division: Hershey Bears
(Washington Capitals), Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers), Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
Penguins (Pittsburgh Penguins), and Charlotte Checkers (Florida Panthers). They play each of these teams four times during the season, two on each team’s home ice.
Additionally, the Monsters play some of their former acquaintances in the Central
Division in the Western Conference. They play the Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings), Chicago Wolves (2022 Calder Cup Champions and affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes), Rockford IceHogs (Chicago Blackhawks), and the Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators). The number of games played between each team varies.
In summary, the Monsters play everyone in the North Division, four out of eight teams
in the Atlantic Division, and four out of the eight teams in the Central Division. Also, Cleveland doesn’t play anyone from the Pacific Division.
The 2022-2023 NHL schedule got released on Wednesday, July 6. Each team plays either
three or four games against the other teams in its division (26 games), as well as playing all non-divisional teams in their own conference three times (24 games). The remaining 32 games of the season are inter-conference play, allowing every team in the league to play each other team twice. The schedule is structured, so every NHL team plays in every arena at least once per season.
It should be the same way with the Monsters’ schedule. For example, if the Monsters
play the Springfield Thunderbirds (affiliate of the St. Louis Blues and a team the Monsters don’t normally play), the two teams shouldn’t immediately turn around and play each other right after.
The “Big 3” will always be the dominant forces here in Cleveland, especially because the
Monsters are a minor league team rather than an NHL team. If the Monsters were to play
everyone in the AHL, then it might encourage more fans to come out to Rocket Mortgage
FieldHouse in downtown Cleveland and attend hockey games.
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