Good Times, Bad Times After NHL Premieres

The Carolina Hurricanes are all set to open their season against the Minnesota Wild in Helsinki, Finland tomorrow, but what happens after the pomp and circumstance is over and the team returns to North America to resume their season next week? 

This is the fourth year that the NHL has sent teams to the other side of the big pond to open up their regular seasons.  While the assignment is an honor and a pleasure for most fans, players, and franchise personnel, some of the previous team's coaching staffs probably would have preferred different venues to start out with.   At one time, the Premiere was otherwise known as a "coach killer".

Two teams participated in the first premiere in London and four teams partook in year two.  Of those six initial teams, five teams fired coaches in either mid-season or at the ending the season they participated.   

On the other side of the spectrum, two teams won the Cup in the same season they participated, including the Chicago Blackhawks from last year. 

Let's take a look at each team that has participated so far and see what their end of season results were:

2007-08:  Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks

The Kings failed to qualify for the playoffs and fired coach Marc Crawford at the end of the season.  They hired Terry Murray to replace him.

After winning the Stanley Cup Championship the previous season, the Ducks qualified for the playoffs once again and there was no coaching change. 

2008-09:  Pittsburgh Penguins, Ottawa Senators, New York Rangers, and Tampa Bay Lightning

The Penguins were languishing and were out of the playoff mix late in the season.  They fired coach Michel Therrien then hired Dan Bylsma and the new coach led the team to a 18-3-4 record in their final 25 games, eventually leading them to a Stanley Cup Championship.

Newly hired Craig Hartsburg was fired as coach of the Sens just 48 games into the season. The club failed to qualify for the playoffs. 

The Rangers fired Tom Renney and hired John Tortorella with 21 games left in the season.  The Blue Shirts qualfied for the postseason.

During the offseason, new ownership in Tampa Bay hired ESPN analyst Barry Melrose, but the marriage was soon annulled.  Melrose was fired just 16 games into the season.

2009-10: Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Florida Panthers, and Detroit Red Wings

After losing to a Finnish club team in an exhibition tune up, the Hawks went on to win the Stanley Cup. 

The Blues failed to qualify for the postseason.

The Panthers also failed to qualify.

The Red Wings barely made it into the playoffs, but were fighting injuries the entire season and failed to win the Central Division, which is a rarity.  It was a disappointing season by their standards. 

 

So what will happen with the Hurricanes?  Obviously, it is not easy to recover from the second round of jet lag when the players return and a lot depends upon the overall health of the team.  The club also has a horrendous schedule immediately following their return as they continue on the "mother of all road trips" with a jaunt to the west coast, (following a game in Ottawa).  It won't be easy to get off to a strong start.

Will coach Paul Maurice survive the season?  One thing for certain, he is well aware of the history of fallen coaches.  He quipped with media about the subject before the team left for Europe.  "I know that several coaches were let go after participating in the Premiere, but a couple of teams won the Cup as well."   He went on, "I'll be focused on the positive."   

Most fans will be as well.

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