Is a new-age dynasty is about to begin?

By: Tim Kolupanowich

@TimKolupan_

The Kings are winless, but have enough returning talent from their Cup run to settle things down. (JulieAndSteve/Wikimedia Commons)

The Kings will set the standard for the rest of the league if they can win consecutive Cups. (JulieAndSteve/Wikimedia Commons)

The past four Stanley Cup have all been about ending long streaks without winning it all. In 2009, Pittsburgh ended their Cup drought of 17 years, by far the shortest wait of any of the four while Chicago ended what was then the longest drought of 49 years the season before. Boston had its first taste of glory in 39 years in 2011 and the Kings won their first Cup ever after being in the NHL for 44 seasons. But for just the second time, first since 1945, the final four teams remaining in the playoffs are also the prior four Cup winners, so a recent champion is definitely going to be recrowned this year.

Whatever team wins is going to have the best opportunity to become the next new-age dynasty.

You have to be a little careful using the word dynasty as it’s meaning has been tweaked as the eras have changed. There has been a slight change in the definition where instead of multiple Cups won consecutively, it’s the multiple won over a short period of time.

With so many teams in the league now and how many different ones are in the mix every year, winning consecutive championships is a daunting task, going on a run last seen by the Edmonton Oilers (five Cups in seven seasons between ’84 and ’90), New York Islanders (four consecutive Cup between ’80 and ’83) and Montreal Canadiens (four consecutive Cups between ’76 and ’79) is a small step short of impossible.

But dynasties still exist in a way as there are still those one or two teams that set the standard for all others. Detroit and New Jersey set the gold standard in recent years as the Red Wings won three Cups in six seasons and four in 11 and the Devils won three in nine years. Between 1995 and 2012, the Red Wings and Devils respectively ranked first and third in playoff appearances (31, 15), first and second in total series wins (31, 21), first and fourth in conference final appearances (eight, six) and first and second in Stanley Cup final appearances (six, five) and championships (four, three). Between them they never won more than two in a row, but it’s a safe bet either of these Ken Holland or Lou Lamoriello-run franchises could have put up four in a row if the NHL was still an 18 or 21-team league.

This year’s winner will have two Cups in, at most, five seasons. Only one other team, Colorado, won multiple Cups in the 17 years between 1995 and 2012, so two in five or fewer seasons would mean a team would have to be pretty dominant. All other teams were gunning for the Oilers, Islanders or Canadiens while they owned the Cup and the same holds true for the Red Wings in the late 1990s and early 2000s. They were the model franchise to look to in how to build a winner for so long and while they don’t look like they’re going to fall apart any time soon, they’re not a guaranteed top three seed anymore either.

The Penguins may have to start ordering their Stanley Cup banners in bulk. (Michael Miller/Wikimedia Commons)

The Penguins may have to start ordering their Stanley Cup banners in bulk. (Michael Miller/Wikimedia Commons)

It could even determine how the game is played for the next decade or so as teams often try to emulate the best. It’s no coincidence scoring dropped off dramatically when the Devils won their first Cup in 1995, popularizing the neutral zone trap and becoming the bane of skilled players everywhere. From now on, will teams try to win with pure offensive talent like the Penguins, a defense that doesn’t give an inch like the Bruins, spectacular goaltending like the Kings or with speed and balance like the Blackhawks?

There are anywhere between 12 and 21 games remaining this season, likely closer to the latter, so we will see who becomes the next great team soon enough. Each team has a solid blueprint, depth and cornerstones drafted and developed in house much like the Wings and Devils did for so long. Two Original Six teams and two 1967 Expansion teams are vying for a title none of them has held in their existence. Pittsburgh came close with consecutive Cup in 1991 and 1992 and the Bruins have twice won two Cups in three years, but none have ever quite managed to make it to a dynasty.

As stated earlier, this year’s winner will have the best chance to be a dynasty; they won’t be one instantly as teams aren’t given the title with any fewer than three championships. But they will be one step closer to being one of the best teams in league history.

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