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Top 10 Active Stanley Cup Droughts
Currently, we are seeing a hard fought series between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both teams have earned their spot in the Final, but only one can lift the Stanley Cup when it's all done.
Tampa could win their first Stanley Cup since 2004, when they outlasted the Calgary Flames in seven. Chicago could win their third Stanley Cup in six years - an incredible accomplishment for today's game. Despite the increasing parity in the league over recent years, the Hawks beat the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010 and the Boston Bruins in 2013.
Some teams have not been so opportunistic or lucky. The Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, and San Jose Sharks have yet to make a Stanley Cup Final appearance. But, some teams have made it to the Final either to lose in their only appearance or to win it all.
For example, the Colorado Avalance won in their only appearances so far (1996 & 2001). But, the Florida Panthers (1996) and the current version of the Ottawa Senators (2007) lost in their only appearance in NHL history.
10. Edmonton Oilers - Last Cup Win: 1990
Then, there's a team like the Oilers. In the 1980s, they won four Stanley Cup with Wayne Gretzky as captain. Then, a fifth came in 1990, with Mark Messier as captain. But, after establishing one of the two major dynasties of the decade, the Oilers have only made it to the Final once since then. In 2005-06, the Oilers lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games. In fact, since 2006, the Oilers have not made the playoffs.
Now, the city of Edmonton sees light at the end of the tunnel. Lately, the Oilers received a few #1 overall picks and used them to get forward Taylor Hall (2010), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011), and Nail Yakupov (2012). This year, Edmonton received yet another #1 pick in the draft lottery, which will likely lead to the Oilers acquiring one of the most talented players to ever enter through the draft - Connor McDavid.
Also, in this off-season, the Oilers hired the Bruins' former general manager Peter Chiarelli. He then, subsequently, hired former Sharks coach Todd McLellan. Ownership hopes the change in culture will get the Oilers back to their glory days.
Calgary Flames Stanley Cup 1989
9. Calgary Flames - Last Cup Win: 1989
The Flames rose from the ashes of its Atlanta history only to rise in Alberta in 1982. Four years later, with Al MacInnis, Mike Vernon, and Hall of Famer Lanny McDonald, the Flames made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. But, the Montreal Canadiens and their new rookie netminder, Patrick Roy, won that series in five. In 1989, behind Calgary would win their elusive Cup, keeping the trophy in Alberta for the third straight year.
The Flames, though, would not even win another playoff series until they faced the Vancouver Canucks in the 2004 playoffs. That year, they played the Lightning in the Final. For the most part, Calgary fans felt they were robbed of a Stanley Cup after a controversial no goal call in the third period of Game Six. It would lead to heartbreak for Alberta, as Tampa Bay won that game in double overtime, then won Game 7 at home.
But, the Flames have reason to hope now. Led by captain Mark Giordano, the Flames sport three young promising forwards who are already making an impact, 21-year-old Johnny Gaudreau, 20-year-old Sean Monahan and 18-year-old Sam Bennett.
Championship Droughts in Other Leagues
Last Finals Appearance
Chicago Cubs (MLB)
Sacramento Kings (NBA)
Atlanta Falcons (NFL)
Cincinnati Bengals (NFL)
8. New York Islanders - Last Cup Win: 1983
It could be argued they were the team of the 80s. They are the last NHL team to win four consecutive Stanley Cups (1980-83). Only the Montreal Canadiens won more in a row (1956-1960). The Islanders also made it to the Stanley Cup Final in 1984, becoming only the second team (Montreal 1951-1960 and 1965-1969) to make at least five straight Final appearances. But, since then, player moves and draft choices have led to futility.
The Isles have not made it to the Final since losing in 1984 to the Oilers. The Islanders also have the longest current streak without winning a playoff series. They won their last one in 1993. Since then, they've had seven chances to advance past the first round, including this playoff year when they lost to the Washington Capitals in seven.
Recently, though, New York has seen a resurgence since drafting John Tavares first overall in 2009. Also, acquisitions such as goalie Jaroslav Halak along with defensemen Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk have gotten the soon-to-be relocated Islanders closer to being back on track.
Before Arizona, there was Winnipeg
7. Arizona Coyotes - Last Cup Win: Never
Right now, the Coyotes are wondering how long they have left in their current city. But, the organization has been around for some time. In 1979, the eight-year old Winnipeg Jets franchise was brought in to join the NHL after its previous league, the World Hockey Association, folded. In 1996, amid financial troubles, the Jets moved to Glendale, Arizona and became the Phoenix Coyotes. When a change in ownership took place early last year, the team dropped Phoenix from their name in exchange for a more state-inclusive Arizona.
During the 80s, the Winnipeg Jets shared a division with the Oilers and Flames, both of whom became stronger and stronger as the decade progressed. The 90s brought players like Jeremy Roenick and Keith Tkachuk, but no success. Even The Great One was brought in as part-owner and eventually head coach, but to no avail. Promise started to come their way in 2012 when they won their first division title (their first series win since 1987) and made it all the way to the conference final.
Arizona is hoping up and coming talent such as Max Domi and Anthony Duclair will join Oliver Ekman-Larsson and take the team where they've never been.
Stanley Cup Domination
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6. Philadelphia Flyers - Last Cup Win: 1975
In 1974, the Broad Street Bullies, captained by the legendary Bobby Clarke, beat the Bruins and the one of the greatest defenseman in NHL history, Bobby Orr, in six games. It marked the first time since 1967 that neither Boston nor Montreal would raise the Cup. The next year, the Flyers nearly blew a 3-0 series lead against the Islanders, but hung on to win in seven games. Two Cups in two years. They made the Final the next year as well, but lost to Montreal, in what would be the first of four cups in a row for the Habs to close out the 70s.
Since 1976, the Flyers would make the Final five times. In the 1980 Stanley Cup Final, their series loss to the Islanders would begin New York's four year run as league champs. In 1985, they ran into a Cup hungry Oilers team lead by Gretzky. In 1987, the Flyers would lose again to the Oilers. Ten years later, in the 1997 Final, they would succumb to the Detroit Red Wings. Then, in 2010, the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Flyers to claim their first Cup since 1961.
The Flyers are now experiencing a sea of change. Last year, former Flyers netminder Ron Hextall took over as GM. In this offseason, the club will be changing things up with the hiring of Dave Hakstol.
5. Washington Capitals - Last Cup Win: Never
The Washington Capitals began their existence in 1974. Six Hall of Famers would don the Caps jersey through the years: captain Rod Langway, captain Adam Oates, big time goal scorers Mike Gartner and Dino Ciccarelli, and defensemen Scott Stevens and Larry Murphy. Despite the talent, their only Final appearance would take place in 1998 against the Red Wings, who would go on to sweep the Caps in four games. In that series, Detroit outscored Washington 13-7 en route to their second straight Stanley Cup.
30 years after the team entered the league, they won the draft lottery. The Capitals selected gifted winger Alexander Ovechkin as 1st overall in 2004. 11 years later, Ovechkin is now the highest scoring Capitals player in history with 895 points. He has also scored the most goals (475) and 2nd most assists (420) in Caps history.
Along with center Nicklas Backstrom and goalie Braden Holtby, Washington were second in the Metropolitan division and put on an impressive show this year against the New York Rangers in a seven game series loss in the conference semifinals.
Vancouver erupts after Stanley Cup Final loss to Rangers
4. Vancouver Canucks - Last Cup Win: Never
Since the Canucks entered the league in 1970-71, they have never won a Stanley Cup. Vancouver's fans have seen them lose the Final in 1982 (the Islanders), 1994 (the New York Rangers), and 2011 (the Bruins). In the last two Final losses, fans were so livid, the series' endings resulted in widespread riots in downtown Vancouver. In fact, the Canucks are one of only two teams to lose in their first three appearances in the Stanley Cup Final. We'll get to the other team soon.
Even more frustrating, the Vancouver Canucks had the best regular season record in the league two years in a row (2010-11, 2011-12) and had nothing silver to show for it. Also, when they lost to the Bruins in 2011, it was during a year when they had won their third straight of five consecutive division titles.
Soon, head coach Willie Desjardins will enter his second full season at the helm and will be looking to improve upon their first round series loss to the Flames.
The Fog - Flyers at Buffalo
3. Buffalo Sabres - Last Cup Win: Never
The city of Buffalo have suffered a long time, much like the city of Cleveland. But, thanks to LeBron James, the Forest City might see a championship at long last. The Buffalo Sabres are hoping for the same in the coming years. In this year's draft lottery, they earned the #2 pick and will likely use it on college superstar Jack Eichel.
During this season, the Sabres also made a trade with Winnipeg to acquire talented, but much maligned forward Evander Kane. They also drafted great talent recently with the addition of centers Zemgus Girgensons and Mikhail Grigorenko. Plus, they now have a Stanley Cup winner behind the bench in former Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma.
All of this done to try to erase past memories of not lifting the Cup. Since entering the league in 1970, the Sabres have twice gone to the Stanley Cup Final and lost. In 1975, Buffalo fought hard through the pain and the fog, but they would eventually lose to the Flyers in six games. In 1999, a controversial overtime goal by legendary winger Brett Hull brought heartache to the Sabres and their fans - once again, they lost in six games.
2. St. Louis Blues - Last Cup Win: Never
The Blues entered the league in grand fashion, making it to the Stanley Cup Final in each of their first three years of existence (1968, 1969, 1970). Unfortunately for them, they lost all three series. For most of that run, they were coached by one of the greatest head coaches in league history, Scotty Bowman. The legendary Bowman would go on to coach the Canadiens, Penguins, and Red Wings to Stanley Cup victories.
St. Louis has not been back to the Final since 1970. Starting with the team's start in 1967-68, it marks the second longest active Stanley Cup drought streak, but not the longest time a team has gone between Final appearances. From 1980 to 2004, St. Louis would be playoff contenders, but they would never get further than the conference final. This despite having some great NHL talent through the years: Wayne Gretzky, Hull and Oates, Bernie Federko, and Joe Mullen.
Nowadays, the Blues are winning division titles, but they're having problems getting past the first round - much like they did this year against the Minnesota Wild.
1. Toronto Maple Leafs - Last Cup Win: 1967
It's the last town that should be struggling in their effort to see Lord Stanley. The Hockey Hall of Fame is there. New York's not the only place with NHL offices. They have them in Toronto as well.
The Maple Leafs are a storied franchise. Their 13 Stanley Cup wins are second only to Montreal's 24. And yet, this historic franchise has not only not won the Stanley Cup since before the Blues, Islanders, Oilers, Flyers, and others have existed. They also haven't been in the Stanley Cup Final since they won in 1967. The team started in 1917 as the Arenas and eventually as the St. Patricks in 1919, before settling on the Maple Leafs name in 1927. In other words, in 50 years of organizational existence, they won 13 times. That's roughly around a quarter of that time period.
Financially speaking and historically as well, the Leafs are worth more than any other NHL team. Winning in that town is serious business. Last year, MLSE hired former league star Brendan Shanahan to be the team president - the man who will take on the task of reversing the nearly 50 year curse. Only the New York Rangers (1940 to 1994) went longer between Cup wins.
Former Red Wing head coach Mike Babcock, a Stanley Cup winning bench boss from that Motor City team, was recently hired to truly start the rebuilding process. Fans are frustrated. So are the players. This is especially true when you realize that the Montreal Canadiens were the last Canadian-based team to win the Cup (1993). All Canada's most populous city wants is a chance to break the losing streak, maybe two.