If the favored Blackhawks defeat the Flyers and win their first Stanley Cup since 1961, the city of Chicago, naturally, will be tickled pink. Philadelphia, meanwhile, will be a little blue. And Toronto will go greyer.
Toronto? What do they have to do with the final? Well, a Hawks win puts the Maple Leafs on the clock as the NHL franchise with the longest wait between Stanley Cups. Anxious fans of the club will gnaw their nails that much shorter and pontificate that much louder about their sustained suffering.
And they have reason to complain. The team has been mostly miserable since last winning the crown in 1967, offering a few glimpses of success, but more frequently, giving little reason for hope.
There is a flip side, however. Reality. Math. Odds.
There are now 30 teams in the NHL and there have been for 10 years. As a result, 29 teams fail every season. Put another way, 13 teams other than Toronto have never, ever won the Cup. That means at least one franchise will see its Cup-less history extend 14 more years, but almost certainly, much, much longer.
Granted there are some newer teams in that mix, but it also includes senior NHL citizens such as St. Louis, Los Angeles (1967 expansion clubs), Buffalo and Vancouver (1970 entrants).
It’s no different in the other three major sports leagues. Fourteen NBA teams are bereft of a crown, either since 1967 or their inceptions. In the NFL during the same time frame, the number is 14. In MLB, it’s 11.
This doesn’t mean fans of championship-less teams should accept mediocrity or prolonged periods of failure. Maple Leafs supporters haven’t even had a playoff game to get their adrenaline pumping since before the lockout.
But keep perspective and know you’re not alone. Championships have never been tougher to win and there has never been such a vast sea of losers.
THE MARIAN TYPE
Speaking of losers, Marian Hossa is trying to shake the goofy chatter about a curse. Or is it goofy?
Hossa, we’re all aware, has finished second in the past two Cup finals. In addition, since breaking in with Ottawa in 1998-99, he has never won a championship of any kind, or any medals at World Championships or Olympics. That streak continued this winter when Slovakia fell in the bronze medal game to Finland.
There are two ways to look at this if you believe in the curse. One, Chicago’s stick-out-of-luck.
Or, two, he’ll break it this year because of the logo on his chest. Hossa’s last major championship came as a member of the Western League’s Portland Winter Hawks in 1998, a team that sports the same logo as the Blackhawks. Incidentally, Hossa left that Memorial Cup game injured and was pushed around the ice on a chair during celebrations. Time to come full circle?
Jason Kay is the editor in chief of The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears regularly.
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