The ‘Olympic Effect’: How Will It Impact Your Fantasy Hockey Team?

Dobber Sports


St. Louis


Who doesn't love Olympic hockey?  Besides the NHLPA, most of us who call ourselves hockey fans love cheering on our countries in international tournaments…and this one is the biggie.


Yet, it's been repeatedly argued that Olympic hockey affects the NHL season.


Recently, Sam Fels at Second City Hockey argued that the both the powerhouse Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators of the 2005-06 season were punted in the first round of the playoffs due to the fatigue of their Olympian-heavy rosters, never mind the crushing Dominik Hasek injury during the Torino tournament. And Terry Frei of ESPN, points out several other interesting NHL trends during Olympic years.


These tidbits caught my attention, and while the specifics of the so-called 'Olympic effect' are somewhat unclear, make no mistake, all of our fantasy teams will have players that will be part of the frenetic two-week Olympic orgasm. We'll also all have players that will receive an unusually long break. We will all be affected.


So with an eye to this year's fantasy hockey season, I investigated a very simple question: are the top-30 scorers (most of whom I figured would likely be part of their countries' national teams) affected by the Olympics?


I expected to find nothing. I was wrong.


Reduced Scoring in 2009-10?

There have been three Winter Olympic Games involving NHL players to look at: 1998, 2002, and 2006.


I compared the average points of the top-30 scorers in the three Olympic years with the previous and following seasons in an attempt to detect an Olympic effect.


After running the numbers surrounding the 1997-98 season, I was startled to see that there was a marked decline in average scoring. The top-30 scorers scored almost 10 fewer points in the Olympic season than in the season previous. Interestingly, there was a six-point rebound the next season.


The numbers were even more dramatic for the 2001-02 camp