Monday, February 23, 2009

The Curse of the European Experiment

Feb. 23, 2009: Tom Renney, NYR: 31-23-7, 69 points, winning percentage: .566

Feb. 15, 2009: Michel Therrien, PIT: 27-25-5, 59 points, winning percentage: .517

Feb. 2, 2009: Craig Hartsburg, OTT: 17-27-7, 41 points, winning percentage: .402

Nov. 15, 2008: Barry Melrose, TBL: 5-7-4, 14 points, winning percentage: .437

Four coaches. Four teams that started the season in Europe, two (Ottawa and Pittsburgh) in Sweden and two (New York and Tampa Bay) in Finland. Is it a coincidence? Probably. But it might not be.

A season begun in Europe means a lot of things. One positive thing Sens fans were looking for was team bonding, bringing a team that had a difficult year and some significant changes closer together under the team's banner. It also means, however, an unusually shortened training camp and atypical exhibition games. It means a circus-like beginning to the season, that cuts into the regular season, and certainly offers some distraction from the team's focus on the season. I don't know if any of that affected these teams' respective performance this season, but it's a very interesting coincidence.

Next season, four more games in Europe: Detroit versus St. Louis in Stockholm, and Chicago takes on Florida in Helsinki. Let's see how that goes.
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