Empty Netters has an interesting article about the amount of free time each NHL team receives in a summer.
Hockey is a tough sport with a long season, at least at the NHL level. It’s not “soff” (to quote Michel Therrien sort of) like baseball. In the regular season, it’s 82 games of blocked shots, abuse in the crease, surging by defensemen, fighting off checks, scrums, slashes, face-washes, battles in the corner and general fatigue. The season starts in early October and lasts until early April.
Then if you’re lucky, you get to play in the postseason. It’s all those things we described in the first paragraph, just with more intensity. Assuming you’re successful, the playoffs can last until early June. Your season can last nine months potentially. And a longer season leads to a shorter offseason and less time to recover from a grueling marathon.
Looking at the chart, its easy to see why so many teams that play in the Stanley Cup finals do poorly the following season. Its a short turnaround time to heal up and get back into shape for the next season.