Thursday, August 14, 2008


It's a Cruel, Cruel Summer

by Jes

(Yes, I used to listen to Ace of Base when I was a kid)

One major factor in why it is hard to have true dynasties in this day and age is the "Stanley Cup Hangover".

I'm not talking about the morning after drinking champagne from the holy mug, but rather the fact that the Stanley Cup Finalists often experience a drop-off in their record during the next season, especially early in the season. The fatigue builds such much that it is harder for the Cup finalists to repeat their great exploits from year to year.

With the seasons getting longer and finishing later, the summer time break for NHL teams has been getting shorter and shorter. Is it any wonder why the Ducks, who also had to put up with a long trip to-from London, faltered so badly last season?

Over at Empty Netters, the excellent MSM blog over at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Seth Rorabaugh crunches some numbers and we see that the Pittsburgh Penguins have the shortest summer break out of all the teams.

After winning the Cup on June 6, 2007, the Ducks enjoyed a brief 115 days off before starting up again on Sept. 29 in London. That was the shortest offseason for any NHL team. The Penguins will own that distinction this offseason by having only 122 days off since losing the Cup to the Red Wings on June 4.

Now, his calculations do not factor in training camps and pre-season games, so the summers for the Pens and Wings will be even shorter than indicated.

Life in the NHL is physically brutal, and players have to work harder, faster, and take more physical punishment then players from 15+ years ago. Every player has to maintain a strong off-season training regimen, leaving few players with a true chance to take a long break from physical activity and fully recover.

It should be no surprise if the Wings and Penguins start the season slowly and have problems later in the year with fatigue. The Wings, especially, might run into problems as their roster has more older players than the Penguins.

Who should really benefit? Take a team on the upswing who had a long off-season, and I figure they will start off gangbusters. How about the Blackhawks? They added some big names, and have had lots of rest. The Capitals, too, could be primed to make another jump ... although their defence corps still sucks.

So, how can a team beat this hangover and succeed year after year?

For one thing, they could stop making these fricking long trips to Europe ... really, these jaunts really seem to do a number on the two teams who participate.

Like Seth points out on his post, the Penguins experienced a rather high turnover for a Cup finalist, which means the newer players will be somewhat fresher and help compensate. The Wings? They experienced very little turnover. Perhaps cycling some fresh players in the depth positions can keep the team's skill level intact while helping offset the fatigue.

It would be foolish to think the Wings and Penguins won't be very good next season, but one must strongly consider the factor of the "Stanley Cup Hangover" when making predictions.

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I dunno, it's awfully simplistic to talk about how the Ducks started their season just based on "days off", and without talking about the effects of the Niedermayer and Selanne semi-retirements. I think leaving room for both those players (while the right move for the team) and the trip to London (which was scheduled well before the playoffs) were bigger factors than the short summer.
I agree about the trips to Europe. If they have only two (and this year four) teams playing over there, it's bound to create some issues. Either send ALL teams there to start the season, or none. And get rid of the outdoor game too, same kind of reasoning...
1) We like Czech's idea of ALL the 30 teams going to Europe for the start of the season. Maybe have a mini tournament or something. That way all the teams have the same issues with travel fatigue, etc
2) That said we disagree with the hangover effect due to shorter turnover time. Come on, how many of us get even 3 weeks off out of 52 and yet we are capable of performing our daily tasks. These guys are getting minimum 12 weeks off between the end of the playoffs and the start of camp.
I understand where you are coming from as regards the variation in 'down-time' between teams. I don't, however, believe that long trips to europe would be a contributing factor to poor performance. Look at the ATP, those players have a tough schedule with little time out and often on a lot of play on hard courts, gruelling to say the least! Also, being in Europe myself and from a purely selfish point of view, it's nice we can have the chance to see these guys play without having to stay up to the early hours! Anyway we shall see what happens, in particular let's see how the Pens cope!
@ Kat - The difference between the ATP and NHL is that you're talking about ONE person taking a flight to play in a particular event, and there's only ONE of those per week, which is similar to golf. You have time to adjust, and EVERY PLAYER HAD TO DO IT, at least most of the time...

Realistically, you can't change the environment a sport is played in unless you do it for all teams, not just a select few. It'called a "level playing field". Not trying to jump on ya, but ATP hardly compares to the NHL in this case...
I see your point on the 'level playing field' and I can see how a team not doing any travelling would have a certain amount of favourable advantage. However, as I understand they send different teams each year to Europe. Is this Bettman's way of levelling the playing field over many years? Or is it purely part of his grand plan to test out having a 'superdupa worldwide hockey league'?
Wow. You could have salvaged some credibility by saying "I used to listen to Bananarama". Instead you went the Ace of Base route.

I guess Bananarama was before your time.
Dittos on the Bananarama comment.

You do know that Ace of Base is a part of the "evil Swede" contingent, right?
We all listened to Ace of bace in 1994. That's part of the Swedish Conspiracy of Mediocrity.
I would just be concerned that anyone felt it appropriate to their music careers to cover a Bananarama song in the first place...
LOL. I saw the sign, it opened up... Don't worry I'm not going to go there.
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