If you are a Ducks, Rangers, Sabres or Kings fan, you have probably noticed that your team will be kicking off the season overseas. This isn’t something new; the league has been sending teams out of the continent for regular season games since 2007.

The NHL tells us it’s done to help grow the game.

Others will say it’s paving the way to possible European NHL expansion.

However, some players and coaches will tell you it’s flat out unfair.

Anyone who has traveled across time zone knows what jet lag is. The actual definition is “A temporary disruption of bodily rhythms caused by high-speed travel across several time zones typically in a jet aircraft.” Translation: My body has no idea what time it is and it’s completely messed up.

Sure players go through this in the regular season, but the most they will deal with is a 3 hour time difference. London, Switzerland, Sweden and Finland, now that’s a different story.

How much of a disadvantage is it for teams that have to start the season overseas?

Are they jet lagged when they come back which affects their play early in the season?

Let’s take a look at the numbers.

Since 2007, sixteen teams have had to fly overseas to start the regular season.

In their first game back on North American soil, they are a combined 4-12. You read that correctly, only FOUR teams won their first game back. For some people jet lag takes a while to get over, so let’s expand the search. When we look at the first 3 games back from overseas, those teams are a combined 18-30 for a stellar 37% winning percentage.

Some teams had even tougher starts to the season…

2007 Kings- Lost the first 5 games back

2009 Panthers- Lost 7 of their first 8

2010 Coyotes- Lost 5 of their first 6

Half of the teams didn’t make the playoffs. Two of those teams (’09 Blues & ’10 Hurricanes) missed the postseason by just 5 points or less. The trend may be shifting; the last 3 Cup champs started the season in Europe, but as a whole, the numbers are interesting.

So who takes the fall for their slow starts? As usual it’s the coach. 5 bench bosses did not finish the season that they started overseas. Tom Renney, Barry Melrose, Michel Therrien, Craig Hartsburg and Andy Murray were all handed their pink slips. That’s almost a third of the coaches! (Side note: Only Tom Renney has got been hired as an NHL head coach since then)

So if your team is heading overseas, you have a legitimate beef.

If you are a gambler, you have a legitimate trend. As someone who has been known to risk his hard earned dollars on the outcome of sporting events, I will be making 12 blind bets this year. You guessed it, bet against the Ducks, Rangers, Sabres or Kings in their first three games in North America.

History does tend to repeat itself.


Now to some links…

To quote George Costanza, “I say this with an unblemished record of staunch heterosexuality”, I present, Ryan Kesler naked.  (I will say this is NSFW mainly because, well, it’s Ryan Kesler naked) (Dirty Dangle)

The Bruins Stanley Cup rings have some serious bling, but how do they compare to past ones? (Puck Daddy)

So what does the Steckel trade mean to the Toronto? (aside from twitter going crazy in the area. Yup, he was trending in T.O) (Leafs Nation)

We all know the “Sean Avery is a douche” angle of the story, but what about the “Avery’s waiving could screw over the Stars” angle? (Pro Hockey Talk)



Comments (5)

  1. Rather than holding regular season games there it should be the 4 teams that reached the conference final playing a champions tournament against the 4 best euro teams at the beginning of the preseason. You can switch every year to the other continent and in years where the NHL teams are in Europe those 4 teams can start the season a week late. If they still get off to a weak start then, oh well, it’s good for parity. People love the international competitions (when they mean something).

  2. > 5 bench bosses did not finish the season that they started overseas. Tom Renney, Barry Melrose, Michel Therrien, Craig Hartsburg and Andy Murray were all handed their pink slips

    Yeah, but of those five, Renney is the only one I would have expected to be re-hired somewhere else, given the welcomes worn out by the other four. Murray–possibly–but after he ground both the Kings and the Blues into the ground…I’m unsurprised.

  3. both the panthers and coyotes suck, so that kinda explains that, i dont remember how well the kings were in 07

    • Bad. That was their worst season post-lockout, but it resulted in Doughnuts so all’s well that ends well.

  4. One issue with the Kings, specifically, is that they’re losing a home game because they’re playing in AEG-owned arenas.

    I’m not TOO worried about the trip – the bigger problem is the trek back, which is a tough trip. They have a road-heavy schedule in October; if the Kings are at or near 0.500 when it’s over, they’ll have gotten the toughest month of the year out of the way early.

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