We’re not knocking the Toronto Maple Leafs, but we would like to go on the record and proclaim the longest Stanley Cup dry spell (54 years by the New York Rangers, from 1940 to 1994) will fall by the wayside in the next decade.
The Maple Leafs have the horses to end their 52-year skid either this year or in the next two, but it’s unlikely that all of Toronto, St. Louis, Buffalo and Vancouver will win a Cup in the next seven years. That’s just unlikely to happen in a 31-team league. Those four teams are all within six years of equalling the Rangers’ dubious distinction.
In fact, don’t be surprised if 30 years from now a half-dozen teams have usurped the Rangers’ 54 years – and maybe one or two or three of them have surpassed 70 years. Almost half the league have Stanley Cup droughts of 25 years or more. And even though parity is at an all-time high, the vast number of teams in the business makes winning even once every generation a less than 50-50 proposition.
And the longer a team’s Stanley Cup drought goes on, the odds of it ending sooner rather than later don’t really get any better than one-in-31. History doesn’t have any compassion, and the opposition doesn’t give a hoot about decades-long sob stories. After all, the Chicago Cubs went 108 years between World Series wins.
1. Toronto Maple Leafs – 52 years, 1966-67
Ron Ellis, the youngest member of that team, is now 74. Leafs coach Mike Babcock turned four that Cup week.
2. St. Louis Blues – 51 years, 1967-68 (inception)
The Blues lost in the Cup final in each of their first three seasons and haven’t returned. The path was easier back then.
3. Buffalo Sabres – 48 years, 1970-71 (inception)
The Sabres made it to the final twice, first in Year 5. The second time was the 1999 Brett Hull foot-in-the-crease loss.
4. Vancouver Canucks – 48 years, 1970-71 (inception)
They were swept by the Isles in 1982, then endured heartbreaking losses in Game 7 in 1994 and 2011.
5. Philadelphia Flyers – 44 years, 1974-75
Hard to believe it’s almost a half-century since the Broad Street Bullies made their indelible fistprint, er, footprint.
6. Arizona Coyotes – 39 years, 1979-80 (Winnipeg inception)
The franchise has made it past the first round just three times – twice in the ’80s in Winnipeg, then 2012 in Phoenix.
7. New York Islanders – 36 years, 1982-83
Is a third-of-a-century drought easier to absorb when the franchise was basking in a dynastic oasis four straight years?
8. Calgary Flames – 30 years, 1988-89
Fifteen years after its first Cup, Calgary thought it won another with a phantom goal in Game 6 against Tampa in 2004.
9. Edmonton Oilers – 29 years, 1989-90
Five Cups in a seven-year run cemented the City of Champions label. They’ve had more luck in the draft lottery since.
10. San Jose Sharks – 27 years, 1991-92 (inception)
Since the turn of the century, the Sharks are the No. 1 team in regular-season wins (806-805 ahead of Detroit).
11. Montreal Canadiens – 26 years, 1992-93
Compared to this current 26-year dry spell, Montreal’s most affluent 26-year stretch produced 16 Cups (1953-79).
12. Ottawa Senators – 26 years, 1992-93 (inception)
The Sens were the anti-Golden Knights of the 1990s, starting with seasons of just 24, 37, 39 (prorated) and 41 points.
13. Florida Panthers – 25 years, 1993-94 (inception)
The Panthers lost in the ’96 Cup final to Colorado in just their third season. That stunned the hockey world at the time.
14. New York Rangers – 25 years, 1993-94
Rangers fans were shaking their heads before the 54-year quest ended. Guess what? We’re almost halfway there again.
15. Dallas Stars – 20 years, 1998-99
We remember the controversial win in Buffalo in 1999. But the Stars made the semis in ’98 and lost in the 2000 final.
16. Nashville Predators – 20 years, 1998-99 (inception)
Tough to cheer against GM David Poile, who is nearing his sixth decade chasing a Cup. He started off as a pro in 1970.
17. Winnipeg Jets – 19 years, 1999-2000 (Atl inception)
The franchise never had a chance in its 11 years in Atlanta. Only a few players with Thrashers roots remain with the Jets.
18. Colorado Avalanche – 18 years, 2000-01
Really? It’s been 18 years since Joe Sakic handed the Cup to Ray Bourque? Tyson Jost and Samuel Girard were in diapers.
19. Columbus Blue Jackets – 18 years, 2000-01 (inception)
Only Edmonton has a poorer regular-season winning percentage since the day the Blue Jackets entered the NHL.
20. Minnesota Wild – 18 years, 2000-01 (inception)
The Wild got out of the first round three times, including making the final four in their third season, focusing on defense.
21. New Jersey Devils – 16 years, 2002-03
They were the offense-stifling Devils of the Dead Puck Era, and they were hot – three Cups in a nine-season window.
22. Tampa Bay Lightning – 15 years, 2003-04
They were the class of the East with 106 points. This season’s juggernaut will eclipse that total by 20-plus points.
23. Carolina Hurricanes – 13 years, 2005-06
There’s misconception Carolina was a mediocre team that squeaked into the post-season. They were third overall.
24. Anaheim Ducks – 12 years, 2006-07
Getzlaf and Perry were super sophomores and Selanne, Niedermayer and Pronger were future Hall of Famers.
25. Detroit Red Wings – 11 years, 2007-08
The Wings and Pens met in back-to-back finals, each winning once. Marian Hossa was on the losing side both years.
26. Boston Bruins – 8 years, 2010-11
If the Bruins don’t rebound from final series deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 to Vancouver, the skid is instead 47 years.
27. Los Angeles Kings – 5 years, 2013-14
Brute strength and a focus on defense were the calling cards for the Kings, who won two Cups in three seasons.
28. Chicago Blackhawks – 4 years, 2014-15
Three Cups in six seasons constitutes a modern-day dynasty. The first of those in 2010 ended a 49-year skid.
29. Pittsburgh Penguins – 2 years, 2016-17
With Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin running the operation, the Penguins are never out of the running.
30. Vegas Golden Knights – 1 year, 2017-18 (inception)
Most expansion teams dream about a playoff berth early on. Second-year Vegas is aiming for back-to-back finals.
31. Washington Capitals – Defending Champs
The perennial contenders were predicted to be playoff pretenders last season. They sure fooled us, didn’t they?