How Do NHL Teams Fare After Starting Their Season In Europe?

How Do NHL Teams Fare After Starting Their Season In Europe?
By Cecil Peters
Fact Checked by Thomas Leary

The San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators got the NHL season underway Oct. 7 in Prague, Czech Republic, in the first of a two-game set known as the NHL Global Series. 

The NHL Global Series has been in effect since 2017, with games in Sweden and Finland being played in 2017 and 2019 and games in Finland in 2018. 

After a two year hiatus, the Global Series has been brought back this year, with the Sharks and Predators starting the season in Prague and the Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets playing in Finland later in the season. There is no legal California sports betting, but we've identified a few trends that could be of interest to hockey bettors should The Golden State ever get in on the action.

Before the Global series came the NHL Premiere series, a program that ran from 2007-2011 with the same general premise as the Global series — regular season games played overseas in an attempt to grow the game globally.

Most teams in the Global or Premier Series have started their seasons overseas, but on occasion the trip across has been made approximately a month into the season, as is the case with the Avalanche and Blue Jackets later this season.

The trip over often serves as a season-opening bonding experience for the teams and appears to correlate well with success later that season, as many teams that have gone overseas have gone on to win the Stanley Cup, including four in a row from 2008-2011 with the Penguins, Blackhawks, Bruins and Kings all winning the Cup after starting their season in Europe.

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Proof In The Pudding

Overall, in the eight seasons the Premier or Global Series has been played, a team that has participated in it has won the Stanley Cup a remarkable five times

In the three other seasons, the best result for a participating team has been a first round playoff exit as shown in the table below.

YearTeams That Played AbroadBest Postseason Result
2007Ducks, KingsLost 1st Round (Ducks)
2008Rangers, Lightning, Senators, PenguinsWon Stanley Cup (Penguins)
2009Blackhawks, Red Wings, Panthers, Blues Won Stanley Cup (Blackhawks)
2010Bruins, Hurricanes, Blue Jackets, Wild, Coyotes, SharksWon Stanley Cup (Bruins)
2011Ducks, Sabres, Kings, RangersWon Stanley Cup (Kings)
2017Senators*, Avalanche*Lost 1st Round (Avalanche)
2018Devils, Oilers, Panthers*, Jets*Lost 1st Round (Jets)
2019Flyers, Blackhawks, Lightning*, Sabres*Won Stanley Cup (Lightning)

*Premiere/Global Game was played one month into season

Bonding Experience

Looking at the information above, it appears that participation in the Global Series has the potential to be very beneficial for NHL teams. 

Members of the Stanley Cup winning teams listed above have gone on record saying the bonding experience with the team to start the year played a definite role in their success. Getting to know your teammates in such a manner builds chemistry and helps form a bond between players, something the Sharks and Predators will be hoping happens with their squads.

Of course, part of the reason for the success is the NHL sending successful and marketable players to play in these games, with superstars Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane among the many players that have won the Cup after participating. 

These are the types of players needed to have success in the NHL. This year, Roman Josi and Filip Forsberg of the Predators and Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl of the Sharks are the headline players, with Hertl growing up and playing his minor hockey in this year's host city of Prague.

It can’t be known for sure what the exact reason for success of these participating teams is, but it is undeniable the success rate of teams that start their seasons in Europe is quite impressive. 

The Sharks are not expected to enjoy much success at all this season, so they will hope the experience this trip provides can jumpstart their season and propel them to a playoff berth which would certainly defy most of the low preseason expectations of the team.

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Contributors

Cecil Peters is a Senior Betting Analyst for BetCalifornia.com. A professional sports bettor in Canada, Cecil specializes in analyzing the latest odds impacting professional sports teams, with a focus on Toronto's favorite players and teams including the Maple Leafs.

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