Friday, 24 February 2012

What Day Is It?

The woman to the left is Kari Byron. If you're a Discovery Channel watcher, you may recognize her from the TV show Mythbusters. But Mythbusters isn't why we're here today. Instead, Kari's shrugging shoulders indicating uncertainly or unknowing is what we're focusing on today because it seems as though the NHL Trade Deadline is kind of like Easter: it's an important day to those that follow, but it doesn't have a set date like Christmas, New Year's Day, or your birthday. And it doesn't have all the religious stuff attached to it either, but you get the idea when trying to find out when and where Easter falls on the calendar as it can be in either February or March depending on, well, something.

Historically, Easter jumps around on the calendar because Jewish observers used a lunar calendar, as opposed to the solar calendar, to mark the holiday of Passover. Because the lunar cycle is different from the solar cycle, Easter remains a constant holiday on the Jewish calendar, but it changes days for most everyone else. In short, it usually happens between March 22 and April 25, but not always.

I know - that really didn't help. But the NHL Trade Deadline Day is a lot like Easter in that there really hasn't been a set date for it ever on our calendar. Hear me out on this one before you scoff.

The first NHL Trade Deadline Day recorded by the NHL was on March 11, 1980. It didn't land on March 11 again until 1986, and then wasn't seen again on that date until 2003. The gap between the first deadline day and the second on the same date was six years, but the gap increased to 17 years between the second March 11 instance.

Here are the NHL Trade Deadline Dates per year:

  • March 11, 1980.
  • March 10, 1981.
  • March 9, 1982.
  • March 8, 1983.
  • March 6, 1984.
  • March 12, 1985.
  • March 11, 1986.
  • March 10, 1987.
  • March 8, 1988.
  • March 7, 1989.
  • March 6, 1990.
  • March 5, 1991.
  • March 10, 1992.
  • March 22, 1993 - note the two-week jump in dates!
  • March 21, 1994.
  • April 7, 1995 - the lockout pushed the deadline day into April.
  • March 20, 1996.
  • March 18, 1997.
  • March 24, 1998.
  • March 23, 1999.
  • March 14, 2000 - a week earlier than the last few years.
  • March 13, 2001.
  • March 19, 2002 - a week later again.
  • March 11, 2003 - a week earlier than in 2002.
  • March 9, 2004.
  • March 9, 2006.
  • February 27, 2007 - a week earlier than 2006.
  • February 26, 2008.
  • March 4, 2009 - a week later than the previous two years.
  • March 3, 2010.
  • February 28, 2011 - a week earlier again.
  • February 27, 2012.
I went looking for reasons as to why the dates kept changing. I was thinking it might have to do with the number of games played by NHL teams, but that didn't figure in very prominently. Of course, I tried to match up Olympic years with the dates, but there was no rhyme nor reason there either. It seems that the NHL Trade Deadline Day happens sometime between February 27 and March 12, but not always.

I have no conclusive evidence that would explain the jumps between weeks. The change in days can be accounted for in how the calendar works itself out from year to year, but the fact that the NHL has cut off trade activity as early as February 27 and as late as March 24 without any significant reason seems to make this an arbitrary date on the NHL calendar.

If anyone can explain the massive jumps in dates seen above, I'm all ears. I know that it most likely has to do with the number of games the teams have played to date, but there it's not like there is a magic number that all teams have to reach. After all, there are significant discrepancies between teams this year in the number of games played to date. So if anyone can explain the change in dates, hit me with your reasons in the comments.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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