NHL Final Four: Penguins vs. Bruins, Blackhawks vs. Kings – HockeyFriday, May 31, 2013 21:29
The last four Stanley Cup winners are the last four NHL teams standing–could the hockey playoffs get any better?
How many championships does it take to make a dynasty?
It’s funny, but the word dynasty is thrown around a lot less in hockey than it is in the other sports. And it’s not like there haven’t been any by the definitions by which dynasties would be measured in baseball, football or basketball. One reason may be that the NHL’s version of the New York Yankees, the Montreal Canadiens, won the vast majority of their Stanley Cups while the league only had six teams.
But even since the NHL expanded, what franchises stand out? The New York Islanders of the early 1980s were a dynasty. Immediately prior to their run of four straight Stanley Cups, those same Canadiens won four straight, too, and immediately after, the Edmonton Oilers won four in five years. Since that time, however, no team has won more than two in a row, with the most dynastic run being that of the Detroit Red Wings, winning three of six from 1997-2002.
The question is worth asking because of the unique situation that has arisen with this year’s NHL final four in which the last four team standing–the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings–are the last four Stanley Cup winners. I’m not sure if such has ever happened before in any of the Big Four American sports, but even if it has, the frequency would be quite rare.
So one franchise is assured of winning two Stanley Cups in at most five–and perhaps back-to-back–years. Not dynasty numbers by traditional years, but then…
Many sports fans and pundits agree that the NHL has the best post-season of the Big Four sports–even if they are not hockey fans first. Nothing rivals the intensity of the Stanley Cup playoffs starting from the first puck drop of the first game of the first round–let alone any Game 7. The only thing that beats playoff hockey is overtime playoff hockey, play-to-you-drop true sudden death. And Game 7 overtime is close to sports nirvana.
The other reason, besides pure intensity, that hockey has the best post-season is that the Stanley Cup playoffs are the most grueling of any of the sports. Hockey is a grind, easily the most difficult championship to win even once, let alone multiple times over a period of a few years.
That the four most recent winners have all ground their way again to this year’s final four says something about the continued strength of these franchises.
Will the winner someday be considered a dynasty?
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