As much of a fan Randy Carlyle
is of NHL teams opening the regular season in Europe, there was no way the Anaheim Ducks
coach was going to let what happened in 2007 happen again in 2011.
"If we're going to commit to being a good partner to the NHL, we can't be impacted when we come home," Carlyle told NHL.com.
Four seasons ago, the Ducks began defense of their Stanley Cup by opening the regular season in London against the Los Angeles Kings
. Figuring they would have to head back west anyway, the Ducks petitioned the League to play some games along the way.
It was a terrible idea.
Ducks know the drill
Since the team plane will be carrying Teemu Selanne
, Saku Koivu
and Tony Lydman, the Ducks know full well that this trip to Helsinki won't be anything like their trip to London four years ago.
"With a huge Finnish contingent on our club, there is keen interest there," coach Randy Carlyle
told NHL.com. "We even have a young draft choice, Sam Vatanen, who has been playing well over there.
"There are a lot of positives that can come out of this, but you have to win. That doesn't change no matter where you are."
With the end game in mind, Carlyle is catering the Ducks' schedule accordingly, so his players will be fresh and ready to go once the puck drops on the regular season Oct. 7 in Helsinki.
The Ducks are leaving for Finland on Oct. 1, but they're looking at 12 hours in the air and a 10-hour time difference on the ground, so when they land it'll be early morning the following day in Helsinki.
"We lose a whole day, but our idea is to make sure we get a skate in that afternoon," Carlyle said. "We have to get our team and our bodies acclimatized to the time change. Automatically, that's the first factor."
Carlyle wants his players to have some time to themselves, as well; so he's built open time in to the schedule both before and after they play an exhibition game against Jokerit on Oct. 4. The Ducks also have a contingent of loyal fans that are making the trip, which means a meet and greet is a must.
"There are things that impact your preparation, but we've done it all before," said Carlyle, who is using his London experience as a road map. "It should not affect our players dramatically. We're going to deal with the events that we have committed to. That's part of our preparation. We'll take that workmanlike attitude."
After splitting two games with the Kings in London, the Ducks returned to North America and had to play three games in four nights -- all home openers for their opponent. They went 0-2-1 against the Red Wings, Blue Jackets and Penguins before finally getting back to Southern California.
The defending champs were 1-3-1. Then-captain Chris Pronger
joked after losing in Pittsburgh that the Ducks were too tired to be angry.
"We had no gas," said Carlyle, whose squad in '07-08 eventually did get on track once Teemu Selanne
and Scott Niedermayer
returned and wound up with 102 points, fourth in the West. "It was something we thought in making the schedule that would help us, be a benefit to have that (East Coast) trip on our way back home, and it definitely was not."
As a result, after opening this coming season with a pair of games in the 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere -- Oct. 7 in Helsinki against buffalo and Oct. 8 against the New York Rangers
in Stockholm -- Anaheim is heading straight home. It won't play again until Oct. 14 against San Jose, the first of five-straight games in California, including four at home.
The Ducks will go east for a seven-game, 13-night road trip that begins Oct. 25 in Chicago; but, by then, their bodies will be completely recovered from a European trip that will seem like ages ago.
"It's going to be a little easier," Ducks forward and Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry
told NHL.com. "We come back, we have four or five days off, and I think we have one or two complete days off, so it's going to be better for us. There's going to be more time for rest, we're in our beds, we're at home, in our arena, and then we get to open in front of our fans. It's definitely going to help."
It'll be even better if the Ducks come home from Europe with a 2-0 record. They should have a distinct crowd advantage in their season opener Oct. 7 against Buffalo.
The game is in Helsinki, Teemu Selanne
's hometown, where he holds rock-star status everywhere he goes. Fellow Finns Saku Koivu
and Toni Lydman
are members of Selanne's band.
"There's going to be a huge buzz," Perry said. "Everyone loves (Selanne). Saku's up there as well, and Toni Lydman
. They're going to have fun showing us around, telling us different stories about different hometowns, whose is better and so forth."
The Ducks will likely face a different fan environment the following night in Stockholm, where they play the Rangers.
"We don't have a Swede on our team and the Rangers have Henrik Lundqvist
. That'll sway things in their favor in that building," Carlyle said. "But, I look at it as an opportunity for our players to experience something different, outside the box. It's an opportunity for the NHL to expand its wings into Europe."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl