Over at NHL.com, Dave Lozo writes about the curious pattern that’s emerged over the last four seasons.
Each of the last three Stanley Cup champions — the Bruins (2011), Blackhawks (2010) and Penguins (2009) — all began their seasons by playing in Europe via the NHL’s Premiere series.
Pittsburgh played in Finland and Sweden, Chicago in Zurich and Finland, Boston in Northern Ireland and the Czech Republic.
This year, Los Angeles played in Germany and Sweden, defeating the Hamburg Freezers and New York Rangers before losing to the Buffalo Sabres — but even though they’ve now made it 4-for-4 for NHL Premiere teams advancing to the Cup finals, captain Dustin Brown isn’t sure it’s worth the travel.
“A trip like that always does build some bonds, but all the guys would probably say we wouldn’t want to do that again,” he explained. “You hang out a lot, but this core group has been together for a while. It’s not like we are going to go on a road trip like that and be closer for it.”
To be fair to Brown, he’s seen the other side of the coin with regards to starting in Europe. The Kings opened the 2007-08 season in Austria and England, flew home, lost five of six to open the season, finished dead last in the Western Conference and saw head coach Marc Crawford get fired.