Greatest NHL teams of all-time: why the ’13 Hawks cracked THN’s top 25 list

The most recent Stanley Cup-winning edition of the Chicago Blackhawks had virtually everything going for it from an historical perspective, with one notable exception: a hyphen. Despite what you might see elsewhere, they are the “2013” Hawks. No 2012 and no hyphen. Thanks for the (lack of) memories, lockout. That presented a challenge for the editors of The Hockey News as we considered whether to include them in our Greatest Teams of All-Time project. There was no direct precedent.

The last time the NHL treated us to a half-season off, New Jersey captured the Cup in 1995. But that club was average during the regular season and didn’t measure up to our other high rollers. The 2013 Hawks, on the other hand, were a juggernaut. They had a record 24-game points streak to begin the season, won the Presidents’ Trophy and fended off the competition for their second title in four years – the closest thing we’ve had to a cap-era dynasty. But, our devil’s advocates argued, they only played 48 games. Who knows if they would have been able to maintain their torrid pace (.802 points percentage, fifth-best all-time) or even been as strong as they were in the playoffs if they’d played a full 82-game schedule? Should they be disqualified from our top 25 list due to the truncated campaign? If you’ve scrolled down to the bottom of this post, you know where this is going. The Hawk ayes carried the day, successfully arguing the 2013 group should not be penalized for something beyond its control. Besides, the Hawks’ relatively small sample size ties them with the 1935-36 Red Wings (our No. 20-ranked team on pg. 96), who played in an era when entire seasons were, coincidentally, 48 games. So we decided to slide Chicago in at No. 15. The composition of the list was decided by a panel of THN editors, originally in 2010, and updated for this project. To be considered for a top 25 spot, teams had to have won a Stanley Cup. For dynasties, such as the New York Islanders from 1980 to ’83, we chose just one year from their run to represent them (’82-83 in this case). Here’s the top 10 1. 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens 2. 1983-84 Edmonton Oilers 3. 1982-83 New York Islanders 4. 1955-56 Montreal Canadiens 5. 1951-52 Detroit Red Wings 6. 1971-72 Boston Bruins 7. 1974-75 Philadelphia Flyers 8. 2001-02 Detroit Red Wings 9. 1991-92 Pittsburgh Penguins 10. 1962-63 Toronto Maple Leafs We’ll share the remainder of the top 25 list in the coming days, and present some of the stories behind those teams and the rationale for their ranking. Feel free to let us know why you agree or disagree.
The Hockey News’ Greatest Teams of All-Time is on newsstands and can be purchased at THN’s online store.
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