What’s a dynasty in today’s NHL? It’s a debate I’ve had with my boss Jason Kay many times over the years.
About the only thing we agree on is you no longer have to win three or more consecutive Stanley Cups to be called a dynasty. Let’s face it, in a 30-team NHL with a salary cap that attempts to level the playing field even more, we’ll never again see the likes of extended Cup wins like the Montreal Canadiens (most recently 1976 to 1979), New York Islanders (1980 to 1983), or Edmonton Oilers (four Cups in five years in the 1980s and five Cups in seven years).
I bring this up now because we might be in the final hours of Chicago’s potential reach at becoming a dynasty. If the Blackhawks can somehow turn the tables on the Los Angles Kings and go on to win the Cup this season, that would be three titles in five seasons. To me, that constitutes a dynasty in today’s NHL. If they lose this year, but rally to win in 2014-15, that works for me as well. But anything more than that and I’m not sure. A lot depends upon the core group staying together.
The Pittsburgh Penguins won back-to-back Cups in 1991 and 1992 when the NHL was a 21 and 22-team league. Not winning a third Cup in the next few seasons to follow stopped them from becoming a dynasty in my opinion.
This is the one that always gets me. The Detroit Red Wings won three Stanley Cups in a six-season stretch from 1997 to 2002 (including back-to-back in 1998). My old definition of a dynasty didn’t allow for them to be called such, because there were three different Cup winners between Detroit’s second and third Cup title in that stretch. But in a salary capped NHL that artificially creates parity, I am willing to soften on that stance – even if it happened before the creation of the salary cap in 2005-06. Nine players on that 2002 Detroit winner were members of their 1997 title team – Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom, Brendan Shanahan, Kris Draper, Sergei Fedorov, Tomas Holmstrom, Igor Larionov, Kirk Maltby and Darren McCarty.
So maybe that was hockey’s last dynasty. Detroit won again in 2008, but that shouldn’t be considered part of Detroit’s dynasty run, even though fans of the Red Wings consider it all part of a winning generation. Only five players were part of all four Detroit titles from 1997 to 2008.
New Jersey won Cups in 1995, 2000 and 2003, but those three wins are too far apart to be called a dynasty. Plus, you can’t have two dynasties run concurrently. And we’re loosely calling Detroit a dynasty in that era.
If Los Angeles goes on to win the Stanley Cup this year, that’s two Cups in three seasons, not enough to be called a dynasty, but now within reach. The Kings would have to win a third Cup within five or six seasons of that first win for the word dynasty to enter their lexicon. And they’d need to keep the core group of Drew Doughty, Jonathan Quick, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter and a handful of other together for that to qualify.
I’d be interested to hear what you think about what’s a dynasty these days.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior editor and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Brian Costello on Twitter at @BCostelloTHN