blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: June 2018

Friday, June 22, 2018

NHL League Size And Regular Season Length

With this week's release of the regular season schedule for the NHL's 102th season of operation (101st season of actual play), it's a good time to consider this season's offering in the historical context of the number of participating teams and regular season games played since the league's inception 102 years ago.

Years 
Games  Teams
Years
Games  Teams
1917-1918   
22
4
          1978-1979   
80
17
1918-1919
18
3
      1979-1991
80
21
1919-1924
24
4
1991-1992
80
22
1924-1925
30
6
1992-1993
84
24
1925-1926
36
7
1993-1994
84
26
1926-1931
44
10
1994-1995
48
26
1931-1932
48
8
1995-1998
82
26
1932-1935
48
9
1998-2000
82
28
1935-1938
48
8
2000-2004
82
30
1938-1942
48
7
2004-2005
0
30
1942-1946
50
6
2005-2012
82
30
1946-1949
60
6
2012-2013
48
30
1949-1967
70
6
2013-2017
82
30
1967-1968
74
12
2017-2018
82
31
1968-1970
76
12
2018-2019
82
31
1970-1972
78
14



1972-1974
78
16



1974-1978
80
18




Rising from 3 to 31 teams and 18 to 84 games since 1918, the NHL regular season now sits at 31 teams playing 82 times a piece for a total of 1,271 games.  Aside from three work stoppages - abbreviating, canceling and abbreviating the proceedings respectively (1994-1995, 2004-2005, 2012-2013) - and a fire finishing a team (Montreal Wanderers) part-way through the year (1917-1918), most NHL regular season schedules have been played as planned with few, if any, interruptions.

Amidst endless stories of financially troubled clubs, the league has done well to quell rumors of NHL relocation, embracing NHL expansion in Las Vegas with Quebec City and Seattle as frontrunners for the league's 32nd team to balance the conferences.  

On the heels of 2013's NHL realignment, expect regular season length to remain at 82 games for the foreseeable future in order to preserve their commitment to extended divisional play, every team visiting every rink each year, and the pursuit of the all-mighty dollar which directly influences player salaries.  In short, fans' preference for fewer regular season games appears unlikely to be realized anytime soon.

* See also Fewest And Most Games Needed to Win Stanley Cup.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Length By Days And Games.
* See also History of NHL Expansion.
* See also History of NHL Relocation.
* See also History of NHL Contraction.
* See also History of NHL Team Renaming.

History of NHL Expansion

Since the league's beginnings in 1917, the NHL has welcomed 37 teams. Of those, thirteen have relocated to a new city, eleven have changed their team name while remaining in the same city, and six have fallen on financial hard times and folded their operations

The chart below shows the history of NHL expansion by year, team name and the expansion fee levied on the buyer by the league.

YearExpansion TeamCost
1917       Montreal Canadians None
1917 Montreal Wanderers# None
1917 Ottawa Senators^# None
1917 Quebec Bulldogs^*# None
1917 Toronto Arenas* None
1924 Boston Bruins $15k
1924 Montreal Maroons# $15k (includes $11k to Canadiens)
1925 Pittsburgh Pirates^# $12k
1926 Chicago Black Hawks* $12k
1926 Detroit Cougars* $12k
1926 New York Rangers $12k
1967 California Seals*^# $2m
1967 Los Angeles Kings $2m
1967 Minnesota North Stars^ $2m
1967 Philadelphia Flyers $2m
1967 Pittsburgh Penguins $2m
1967 St. Louis Blues $2m
1970 Buffalo Sabres $6m
1970 Vancouver Canucks $6m
1972 Atlanta Flames^ $6m
1972 New York Islanders $11m (includes $5m to Rangers)
1974 Kansas City Scouts^ $6m
1974 Washington Capitals $6m
1979 Edmonton Oilers $7.5m (includes $1.5m to WHA)
1979 Hartford Whalers^ $7.5m (includes $1.5m to WHA)
1979 Quebec Nordiques^ $7.5m (includes $1.5m to WHA)
1979 Winnipeg Jets^ $7.5m (includes $1.5m to WHA)
1991 San Jose Sharks $45m
1992 Ottawa Senators $45m
1992 Tampa Bay Lightning $45m
1993 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim*   $50m (includes $25m to Kings)
1993 Florida Panthers $50m
1998 Nashville Predators $80m
1999 Atlanta Thrashers^ $80m
2000 Columbus Blue Jackets $80m
2000 Minnesota Wild $80m
2017 Las Vegas $500m

* Team was victim of NHL Renaming
^ Team was victim of NHL Relocation
# Team was victim of NHL Contraction

As indicated by the footnotes above, several teams have endured change in the form of renaming, relocation and contraction.  The ordering of the symbols indicates the chronology of these events.  The number of NHL teams and regular season games played by year may be found here.

The first five members of the NHL in 1917 gained admission without having to pay an expansion fee.  Since then, all teams have paid a fee to join the league.  Hovering between $12,000 and $15,000 in the 1920s, expansions fees jumped to $2 million in 1967 and tripled three years later in 1970 to $6 million where they remained (save surcharges to other teams and leagues) through the remainder of the decade.

After a twelve year span of a 21 team NHL, expansion began again in 1991 with fees 7.5 times higher than those paid by teams entering in the 1970s, ultimately ending up over 13.3 times by 2000. Current franchise valuations estimate the value of NHL teams ranging from $186 million (Florida Panthers) to $1.2 billion (New York Rangers).  

On June 22, 2016, the NHL Board of Governors unanimously approved a yet-to-be-named Las Vegas team as its 31st franchise. The club, coming at a cost of $500 million (6.25 times greater than the cost of it's next youngest siblings, Minnesota and Columbus from 2000) shall compete in the Pacific Division commencing in 2017. The NHL expansion draft to fill their roster is scheduled occurred on June 21, 2017.


Despite the escalating costs of purchasing a NHL team through expansion, the inflation calculator shows these teams to be more than holding their value in the terms of purchase price. This does not account for the annual operating losses for most NHL teams, which in the case of the Phoenix Coyotes resulted in losses of $54 million in 2009.

In 2013, the Glendale counsel voting 4-3 to keep the Coyotes for five more years, dashing the hopes of Seattle or Quebec City acquiring the club through relocation. Despite Quebec City being passed over today for an expansion franchise, allegedly owing to a lack of geographic balance and a weak Canadian dollarSeattle and Quebec City remain frontrunners to host the NHL's next franchise, if the league opts to expand to 32 teams.
* See also History of NHL Contraction.
* See also History of NHL Relocation.
* See also History of NHL Team Renaming.

Friday, June 8, 2018

NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Length By Days & Games

The 2018 NHL playoffs began on April 11 and ended on June 7, boasting 84 games in 64 days. During this time, the Stanley Cup winning Washington Capitals skated in 24 games, for a total of 106 games (82 + 24) since the season began over eight months ago. 

Washington's extensive playoff run begs the question, how long does a typical NHL postseason last? The chart below describes each postseason since 1987 (when the NHL expanded each playoff round to seven games) by start date, end date and length (i.e., total days and games).

Year       Start Date / End Date    Days       Games      
1987       
April 8 - May 31     
54      
87     
1988       
April 6 - May 26     
51      
83     
1989       
April 5 - May 25     
51      
82     
1990       
April 5 - May 24     
50      
85     
1991       
April 3 - May 25     
53      
92     
1992       
April 18 - June 1     
45      
86     
1993       
April 18 - June 9     
53      
85     
1994       
April 16 - June 14     
60      
91     
1995
May 6 - June 24     
50      
80     
1996
April 16 - June 10     
56      
86     
1997
April 16 - June 7     
53      
82     
1998
April 22 - June 16     
56      
82     
1999
April 21 - June 19     
60      
86     
2000
April 12 - June 10     
60      
83     
2001     
April 11 - June 9     
60      
86     
2002
April 17 - June 13     
58      
90     
2003
April 9 - June 9     
62      
89     
2004
April 7 - June 7     
62      
90     
2006
April 21 - June 19     
60      
84     
2007
April 11 - June 6     
57      
81     
2008
April 9 - June 4     
57      
85     
2009
April 15 - June 12     
59      
87     
2010
April 14 - June 9     
57      
89     
2011
April 13 - June 15     
64      
89     
2012
April 11 - June 11     
62      
86     
2013
April 30 - June 24     
56      
86     
2014
April 16 - June 13     
59      
93     
2015
April 15 - June 15     
62      
89     
2016
April 13 - June 12     
61      
91     
2017
April 12 - June 11     
61      
87     
2018
April 11 - June 7     
58      
84     
Avg
     
57      
86     

Since the NHL expanded all four rounds of the playoffs to a seven game series, the maximum number of playoff games that could possibly be played if all series went to a Game 7 is 105. Alternatively, the least possible number of playoff games if all 15 series resulted in a sweep is 60 games.

In terms of total games played in a postseason since 1987, the fewest is 80 games (1995).  Only four times has a playoff lasted more than 90 games (1991, 1994, 2014, 2016), the longest postseason being 93 games in 2014. The average playoff length during this span is 86 games.

Only once in the past 31 postseasons has a playoff lasted fewer than 50 days (45 days in 1992) and just seven times has it exceeded 60 days (2003, 2004, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017), the longest lasting 64 days (2011). The average playoff length during this span sits at 57 days.

With each team playing 82 regular season games for a total of 1,230 games, 2018 Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals skated in 106 games (82 + 24) during 246 days dating back to the opener on October 5, 2017, representing 67% of the days in a calendar year and leaving only 119 days off between the Stanley Cup winning game and opening night of the next regular season.

Players on the 15 teams that did not skate in the 2018 postseason will enjoy 178 days off between regular season games, 60 more days off than their Stanley Cup winning counterpart. For those suffering such a playoff drought, here's hoping that rest translates into success.

* See also NHL League Size And Regular Season Length.
* See also Fewest And Most Games Needed to Win Stanley Cup.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Conn Smythe Trophy - Stanley Cup Playoff MVP

Moments before each Stanley Cup crowning the Conn Smythe Trophy is bestowed upon the Hockey Writers' selection of the postseason's best. First presented to Jean Beliveau in 1965, the honor dedicated to the Leaf legend has been handed out 53 times to 46 different players.

Typically finding a Stanley Cup champion (47 times) who is Canadian (45 times), the trophy has only found six Stanley Cup Final losers (Roger Crozier, Glenn Hall, Reggie Leach, Ron Hextall, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Tim Thomas) and eight non-frostbacks (Brian Leetch, Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Evgeni Malkin, Tim Thomas, Jonathan Quick, Patrick Kane, Alexander Ovechkin). That said, only 4 of the past 8 winners were Canadian (Justin Williams 2014, Duncan Keith 2015, Sidney Crosby 2016-2017) with the last recipient being Russian (Alexander Ovechkin 2018) and the three prior recipients being Americans (Tim Thomas 2011, Jonathan Quick 2012, Patrick Kane 2013).

Positionally the award has been dominated by centers (18) and goalies (16), followed by defensemen (10), right wingers (6) and left siders (3). Only Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy has taken the trophy three times with the well-heeled five-some of Bobby Orr, Bernie Parent, Wayne GretzkyMario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby each taking it twice. Bernie Parent (1974, 1975), Mario Lemieux (1991, 1992) and Sidney Crosby (2016, 2017) are the only to win it in consecutive seasons.

On June 7th of 2018, Ovechkin became the second Russian and first Capital to capture the honor. Tim Thomas is the eldest recipient of the award at age 37 (2011), while Patrick Roy remains the youngest at age 20 (1986).

2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines

The time-honored tradition of NHL playoff combatants shaking hands upon the conclusion of a series is among the greatest displays of sportsmanship in professional team sports today. Seconds after the horn sounds at the end of a series, players and coaches from both teams convene at center ice to celebrate each other's efforts.

The videos below capture the final moments of play in each series-ending game to date in the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs along with the ensuing traditional team handshake line, sorted by round and series end date.

FIRST ROUND

The Golden Knights eliminated the Kings in Game 4 on April 17, 2018.

The Sharks eliminated the Ducks in Game 4 on April 18, 2018.

The Jets eliminated the Wild in Game 5 on April 20, 2018.

The Lightning eliminated the Devils in Game 5 on April 21, 2018.

The Penguins eliminated the Flyers in Game 6 on April 22, 2018.

The Predators eliminated the Avalanche in Game 6 on April 22, 2018.

The Capitals eliminated the Blue Jackets in Game 6 on April 23, 2018.

The Bruins eliminated the Leafs in Game 7 on April 25, 2018.

SECOND ROUND

The Lightning eliminated the Bruins in Game 5 on May 6, 2018.

The Golden Knights eliminated the Sharks in Game 6 on May 6, 2018.

The Capitals eliminated the Penguins in Game 6 on May 7, 2018.

The Jets eliminated the Predators in Game 7 on May 10, 2018.

THIRD ROUND

The Golden Knights eliminated the Jets in Game 5 on May 20, 2018.

The Capitals eliminated the Lightning in Game 7 on May 23, 2018.

STANLEY CUP FINAL

The Capitals eliminated the Golden Knights in Game 5 on June 7, 2018.

In an age of results reigning over respect, it's encouraging to see such sportsmanship in professional sport, albeit with notable exceptions (Milan Lucic 2014), abstention (Martin Brodeur 2008Derek Boogaard 2007, Chris Chelios 2007Darren McCarty 1997, Ed Belfour 1995Billy Smith, Gerry Cheevers) and disdain (Dino Ciccarelli 1996) in recent years.

* See also 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.
* See also 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.
* See also 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.
* See also 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.
* See also 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.
* See also 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.