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)