October 29, 2011

Stanley Cup hangover seems less like curse, more like hoax

Sidney Crosby (left) and the Penguins seemed to do just fine in 2009-10 after capturing the Cup earlier that year. (Getty)

Long before the 2011-12 season even began, the dreaded Stanley Cup hangover was a hot topic.

Could Boston dodge a curse that had supposedly haunted every previous champion before them? That’s what everyone wanted to know and, even before his team dropped their sixth game in nine tries, GM Peter Chiarelli admitted he foresaw such struggles.

The Bruins sit at 3-6-0 entering the tenth game of their season tonight but, as you all know, they're not the only defending champ to stumble in October. Or are they?

Surely at least one recent Cup winner has struggled as mightily as the Bruins in the first month of the year, right? Think again.

Here's how the last few champs have fared in the first ten games of their followup seasons, none of which, in this scribe's opinion, should be categorized as disastrous:

2010-11: Chicago Blackhawks (5-4-1)   
2009-10: Pittsburgh Penguins (9-1-0)
2008-09: Detroit Red Wings (7-1-2)   
2007-08: Anaheim Ducks (4-5-1)
2006-07: Carolina Hurricanes (4-4-2)   
2005-06: Tampa Bay Lightning (5-3-2)*
2003-04: New Jersey Devils (6-3-1)   
2002-03: Detroit Red Wings (8-2-0)
2001-02: Colorado Avalanche (6-4-0)   
2000-01: New Jersey Devils: (6-2-2)

* Lockout eliminated actual followup season (2004-05)

That’s a decade worth of Stanley Cup champions right there. Among those ten teams, only one had a losing record. One. And how bad were those dismal Ducks? A single freakin’ game under .500.

Want to know what all of those wins and losses add up to? The past ten winners of hockey’s Holy Grail have combined to go 60-29-11, racking up 131 out of a possible 200 points. Do that at the same rate over an 82-game season and you’d finish the year with around 107 points – a total that would have been good enough to win five of the six divisions in the NHL last season.

With a tough game ahead against Montreal tonight, the Bruins are in jeopardy of slipping to 3-7-0 on the year, an undeniably awful way to begin any season – let alone one on the heels of a championship campaign.

But if you’re looking for reasons for their early struggles, don’t blame it on history, curses or mythical trends. Cup winners have fared just fine in October after lifting Lord Stanley's mug high above their heads just four months prior. Well, all of them except for your beloved Bruins.