Monday, February 23, 2009


A Footnote to the CBC Hockey Day Celebration of hockey’s war on climate change:

30 NHL teams play 82 games each during their regular season
That amounts to a total of 1230 regular season games
Collectively NHL teams fly about 1,210,008 miles to plays those games.

Each game therefore involves about 984 miles of air travel alone to play. Bus trips to hotels and arenas for games and practices are another extra not factored in here.
The average NHL team flies 40, 333.6 miles per regular season. That translates to flying 492 miles for each game on average.
And the NHL is talking about extending the regular season by 2 games each team to a total of 84 regular season games each. That would involve 30 more games and about 29,520 more miles of air travel for the league.

Each player on the typical 25 man roster of an NHL team emits 10 metric tonnes of green house gases in travel, according to the David Suzuki Foundation. (The average Canadian emits about 23 metric tonnes in his or her total activity). In other words, each team is responsible for 250 metric tonnes of GHG emissons or just over 3 tonnes per game. And extra 2 games in the schedule will therefore cost the atmosphere about 90 tonnes of GHG.

That is to say an extended schedule of 84 rather than 82 NHL games is equivalent to what another 9 NHL hockey players would emit for the year.
Suppose that the NHLPA was really serious about fighting climate change, and negotiated a 70 game rather than the current 82 game schedule. That would be twelve fewer games each for 30 teams, or 180 fewer games. 70 game seasons were the rule in NHL hockey for decades until expansion (and greed) became the rule. Since it cost the atmosphere 3 metric tonnes of GHG on average for each NHL game played, that would be 540 metric tonnes of GHG not emitted because of a shortened schedule of 70 games per team. That would be equivalent of the league dropping at least two teams. Down to 28 instead of 30.

Each of the 750 players in the NHL emit on average, 10 tonnes of GHG. Collectively then, NHL players dump 7,500 tonnes of GHG into the atmosphere. If 12 games were dropped from the schedule, 180 fewer games would be played and 540 tonnes of GHG would not be emitted. That is equivalent to shedding two teams from the league, with something left over. That would be a meaningful gesture of sacrifice. Much more than the “Carbon Neutral Challenge” taken up in response to the David Suzuki Foundation. Ah, but shrinking the league would involve negative “growth”, something any environmental NGO in Canada is loathe to think of. Growth is something they “manage”, not limit or reverse.

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