Nothing official has been announced yet, but it’s almost certain that the Kings will open next season with two games in London against the Ducks. It’s a way for the NHL to expand internationally, and for AEG to have a high-profile event to fill the arena it is renovating and reopening in London this summer, but what does it mean from a hockey standpoint?
Trouble. Most likely.
Dean Lombardi surely remembers his third season as GM in San Jose, which started with two games in Tokyo against Calgary. After the second game, the Sharks had just eight days before they resumed their season, and things didn’t go well. The Sharks went 0-5-1 upon returning to America. The Sharks went on to finish seventh in the conference that year. Calgary wasn’t as lucky. The Flames went 1-5 upon their return to America and finished ninth in the West.
How about the year before? The Ducks and Vancouver split two games in Tokyo. Both teams went a respectable 2-3-2 in the first seven games in the U.S. but they finished as the two worst teams in the Western Conference.
It’s a tough thing, to come back from time overseas and resume a season. In 2004, the Yankees and Devil Rays played a four-game series in Tokyo. The Yankees then lost nine of their first 15 in America and the Devil Rays lost 13 of their first 18. Well, the Devil Rays stunk anyway, but you get the picture. Even the Clippers, who spent their training camp and exhibition season in Russia, seem to have been in a slumber this season.
So…good luck, Kings.