The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/19/14 at 02:16 PM ET
Via SI's Allan Muir, the Grand Rapids Griffins have been dropping strong Twitter and email hints that their 2014-2015 schedule will be released "soon," and there's a reason for that. The AHL's website posited a story explaining why the AHL a) has to wait for the NHL, NFL and NBA to release their schedules before getting down to schedule-making business, as well as b) why the AHL still believes that a human-authored schedule is better than a computer-generated version:
The AHL’s constitution calls for each member club to submit to the league, in February of the previous season, a list of "primary" and "secondary" dates on which they would be available to play at home, along with "blackout" dates when they cannot play at home because of other events in their arena.
In the spring, the AHL confirms for each team a list of guaranteed dates for the upcoming season -- dates on which the team is assured of playing a home game, albeit without a specific opponent just yet. This allows clubs to begin making preparations and drumming up interest in the coming year. Many teams have already announced their guaranteed dates, some including their home openers, for 2014-15.
Once a schedule format (who plays whom, and how often) is designed by and approved by the Board of Governors, the schedule can truly begin to take shape.
The schedule board hangs on one full wall in the office of Michael Murray, the AHL's vice president of hockey operations. He and Melissa Caruso, the league's director of hockey administration, are charged with transforming the board from its blank starting point to a collage of markers representing the 2014-15 slate.
Creating the schedule is a tedious process, not unlike putting together a 5,760-piece jigsaw puzzle without a picture on the box to work from. Computerized scheduling programs have been considered, but the manual process continues to produce the best results.
The league’s teams are identified on the big board by magnets of different shapes and colors: green triangle, yellow square, black star, red circle. Each team also gets a cup filled with 38 magnets, one representing each of its home opponents as prescribed by the schedule format.
The teams are lined up on the board from top to bottom by division, with dates stretching from left to right. What results is essentially a 192-by-30 framework, creating those 5,760 blank spaces in which to fill a total of 1,140 games.
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