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Monday, May 30, 2016

NHL Stanley Cup Final Appearance Droughts

This week the Sharks and Penguins qualified for the 2016 Stanley Cup Final erasing a Stanley Cup Final appearance drought of 25 years and 7 years, respectively, while the NHL's other 28 teams extended their absence by another season. The chart below describes, in descending order, the number of seasons each club has gone without a Cup Final appearance, showing the last year they qualified (if ever).

Team       Seasons           Last Cup Final
Toronto Maple Leafs 
48         
St. Louis Blues
45         
Phoenix Coyotes*
36         
Never
New York Islanders
31         
Montreal Canadiens
22         
Florida Panthers
19         
Nashville Predators
17         
Never
Washington Capitals
17         
Buffalo Sabres
16         
Winnipeg Jets**
16         
Never
Columbus Blue Jackets
15         
Never
Dallas Stars
15         
Minnesota Wild
15         
Never
Colorado Avalanche
14         
Calgary Flames
11         
Carolina Hurricanes
10         
Edmonton Oilers     
10         
Anaheim Ducks
9         
Ottawa Senators      
9         
Detroit Red Wings
7         
Philadelphia Flyers
6         
Vancouver Canucks
5         
New Jersey Devils
4         
Boston Bruins
3         
Los Angeles Kings
2         
New York Rangers
2         
Chicago Blackhawks
1         
Tampa Bay Lightning
1         
Pittsburgh Penguins
0         
San Jose Sharks
0         

*   Includes record of Winnipeg Jets prior to relocation to Phoenix
** Includes record of Atlanta Thrashers prior to relocation to Winnipeg

The average drought rests at roughly 13.5 seasons with Toronto laying claim to the longest at 48 seasons, a streak that began prior to NHL expansion beyond its original six teams. Arguably worse is the fact that 5 of the 30 teams (17%) have never skated in a Final in their franchise history (Phoenix, Nashville, Winnipeg, Minnesota, Columbus), a list that was reduced by one with the Sharks earning their first ever Stanley Cup Final appearance this year.

In ten months the quest for the Cup continues for 16 of the 30 clubs that qualify for the postseason. The goal is to hoist the hardware, but simply qualifying for the Stanley Cup Final would be a step in the right direction.
Indeed, one thing leads to another.

* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Qualification Droughts.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Series Win Droughts.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Championship Droughts.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Today In NHL History - Lemieux Boards Draper

On May 29th in 1996, Colorado Avalanche cheapshot Claude Lemieux checked Detroit Red Wings grinder Kris Draper face first into the boards in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals igniting a fierce rivalry between the teams that remains to this day.

The hit hospitalized Draper with a concussion, broken nose, fractured jaw, and shattered cheek and orbital bone requiring extensive facial reconstructive surgery, several stitches, and wiring shut his jaw.

Lemieux received a five minute major and match penalty to which the NHL added a two game suspension and $1000 fine. Colorado won the game 4-1 closing out the series that night 4-2 en route to their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance sweeping the Florida Panthers. Draper didn't return to hockey until midway through the following season.
That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Bourdon's Motorcycle Crash

On May 29th in 2008, Vancouver Canucks defenseman Luc Bourdon, the 10th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, died in a motorcycle crash when he collided with a semitrailer near his hometown in New Brunswick.

The accident shocked the hockey community, especially Kris Letang who missed Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals to attend Luc's funeral.


The Canucks honored Luc at their home opener against Calgary, presenting Luc's family with his last game worn jersey and screening a video tribute accompanied by a live performance of "Big League" by Tom Cochrane.

Vancouver shutout Calgary 6-0 with Bourdon's best friend Alex Burrows scoring twice and earning the game's first star. Burrows carried the momentum of that match into a 28 goal breakout season, acknowledging his fallen friend with a bow and arrow tribute from time to time.


Luc Bourdon, forever a Canuck.

That's today in NHL history.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Rematches

Since the Stanley Cup was first awarded to the NHL's best in 1926, only 10 times have the same two teams met in the Cup Final in consecutive years. Of those 10 meetings, the same team won both series 7 times and teams split 3 times. Put another way, the Cup champion has successfully defended its title in 7 of the 10 rematches (70%).

The chart below describes every consecutive Cup rematch by year.

Year       Matchup
1932   Toronto over New York*  
1933 New York* over Toronto  
1948 Toronto over Detroit
1949 Toronto over Detroit
1954 Detroit over Montreal
1955 Detroit over Montreal
1957 Montreal over Boston
1958 Montreal over Boston
1959 Montreal over Toronto
1960 Montreal over Toronto
1963 Toronto over Detroit
1964 Toronto over Detroit
1968 Montreal over St. Louis
1969 Montreal over St. Louis
1977 Montreal over Boston 
1978 Montreal over Boston   
1983 New York** over Edmonton     
1984 Edmonton over New York**
2008 Detroit over Pittsburgh
2009 Pittsburgh over Detroit

*   New York Rangers
** New York Islanders

Of the 9 teams (Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins) to compete in Stanley Cup Final rematches, all but two (Boston, St. Louis) have won at least one championship during a rematch series. Never have the same two teams met in more than two consecutive Stanley Cup Finals.

Though teams have enjoyed consecutive Stanley Cup wins (24 times) and suffered consecutive Stanley Cup losses (13 times) over the years, the rematch is a far rarer occurrence (10 times). 

With Chicago losing in the preliminary round and Tampa Bay ousted in the conference final of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs, there will be no rematch of last year's finalists in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

* See also NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Wins.
* See also NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Losses.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Today In NHL History - Gretzky Highsticks Gilmour

On May 27th in 1993, Wayne Gretzky cut Doug Gilmour for eight stitches with a high stick during overtime in Game 6 of the Campbell Conference Final. The unpenalized play left the Great One on the ice to score the winner moments later.


Referee Kerry Fraser's historic non-call, which haunts him and leagues of Leafs fans to this day, invited conspiracy chatter to Don Cherry's Coaches Corner with Torontonians claiming the NHL influenced officiating to ensure Los Angeles would advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.

NHL Director of Officiating Brian Lewis later spoke with HNIC host Ron MacLean to discuss the events surrounding the Game 6 non-call.

Gretzky collected a hat trick in Game 7 at Maple Leaf Gardens leading the Kings to a 5-4 win over the Maple Leafs and their franchise first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, which they lost 4-1 to the Montreal Canadiens.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines

The time-honored tradition of NHL playoff combatants shaking hands upon the conclusion of a series is among the greatest displays of sportsmanship in professional team sports today. Seconds after the horn sounds at the end of a series, players and coaches from both teams convene at center ice to celebrate each other's efforts.

The videos below capture the final moments of play in each series-ending game to date in the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs along with the ensuing traditional team handshake line, sorted by round and series end date.

FIRST ROUND

The Lightning eliminated the Red Wings in Game 5 on April 21, 2016.


The Sharks eliminated the Kings in Game 5 on April 22, 2016.


The Penguins eliminated the Rangers in Game 5 on April 23, 2016.


The Capitals eliminated the Flyers in Game 6 on April 24, 2016.


The Stars eliminated the Wild in Game 6 on April 24, 2016.


The Islanders eliminated the Panthers in Game 6 on April 24, 2016.


The Blues eliminated the Blackhawks in Game 7 on April 25, 2016.


The Predators eliminated the Ducks in Game 7 on April 27, 2016.


SECOND ROUND

The Lightning eliminated the Islanders in Game 5 on May 8, 2016.


The Penguins eliminated the Capitals in Game 6 on May 10, 2016.


The Blues eliminated the Stars in Game 7 on May 11, 2016.


The Sharks eliminated the Predators in Game 7 on May 12, 2016.


THIRD ROUND

The Sharks eliminated the Blues in Game 6 on May 25, 2016.


The Penguins eliminated the Lightning in Game 7 on May 26, 2016.


In an age of results reigning over respect, it's encouraging to see such sportsmanship in professional sport, albeit with notable exceptions (Milan Lucic 2014), abstention (Martin Brodeur 2008Derek Boogaard 2007, Chris Chelios 2007Darren McCarty 1997, Ed Belfour 1995Billy Smith, Gerry Cheevers) and disdain (Dino Ciccarelli 1996) in recent years.

* See also 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.
* See also 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.
* See also 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.