What we like, don’t like about 2023-24 Detroit Red Wings schedule

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Red Wings dropped their 2023-24 schedule Tuesday, revealing they will open and close on the road and host the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first home game.

The Wings begin the season at the New Jersey Devils on Oct. 12 and close it April 16 at the Montreal Canadiens. The first game at Little Caesars Arena is Oct. 14.

The longest trip of the season comes in mid-November, when the Wings head to Sweden to play the Ottawa Senators on Nov. 16 and the Toronto Maple Leafs the next day. General manager Steve Yzerman explained why the Wings said yes — or “ja” in Swedish — to such a road trip.

“It’s a great experience,” he said. “Our players are extremely excited to go, our staff is excited to go. I think there are going to be a lot of fans over there, some of our sponsors. When the league called to ask, we talked about it internally — for me it was this is a great experience for our players and for our organization and things they will remember.”

The schedule does allow time to minimize jetlag: The Wings’ last game before the Swedish sojourn is Nov. 11, and they don’t play again on the flip side until Nov. 22, which is Thanksgiving Eve.

Speaking of eve’s: The Wings’ traditional New Year’s Eve game is at 5 p.m. against the Boston Bruins — which will, for a change, allow fans to get home to ring in the new year.

The flip side of only playing twice in about 10 days because of going to Sweden, there is long trip near the end of the season that takes the team from Nashville to Washington to Carolina, to Florida to Tampa Bay from March 23 to April 1.

“You’re going in November, right in the middle of the season virtually,” Yzerman said. “You need time to get over there and get adjusted and you need a few days on the back end. Whatever that 10-day period is, those are 10 days you play two games, normally you play five to six games, so those games have to be played somewhere else. That’s the down side to it.”

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames.

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Her latest book, “On the Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft,” is available from  Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.

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