The 20 Worst Stanley Cup Champions in NHL History
Winning the Stanley Cup is the ultimate moment of glory for any hockey player. Regardless of how many goals a player might score or saves a goalie can make, absolutely nothing compares to hoisting the silver trophy.
It is the most difficult championship to win in all of sports, particularly because of the physical toll and intensity of the lengthy playoffs.
So, while all Stanley Cup champions will be remembered for reaching the pinnacle of team and individual success alike, some were less impressive than others.
20. 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh’s 99 regular-season points are the fewest of any cup winner since the lockout.
19. 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning
After a 46-win regular season, the Lightning took two Game 7s to make it to the top. They were one goal away from losing the cup to Calgary in Game 6.
Had the Flames been able to score in overtime, Tampa Bay would still be without a cup win today.
18. 1999 Dallas Stars
The Stars did win the Presidents' Trophy that season, but won the cup on a goal that many Buffalo Sabres fans still say should not have even counted.
17. 2006 Carolina Hurricanes
It took them seven games to knock off the eighth-seeded Edmonton Oilers from the Western Conference.
What’s even worse is that the Hurricanes completely missed the playoffs the next season.
16. 1970 Boston Bruins
40 regular-season wins, 99 points and a lot of offense got these eventual champions into the playoffs.
A butterfly-style goaltender might've fared much better on Bobby Orr's iconic clincher.
15. 2011 Boston Bruins
The 46 regular-season wins were not that impressive, but it’s the three Game 7s that Boston took to get the cup that puts them here.
That’s not exactly a dominating or convincing route to the top.
14. 1992 Pittsburgh Penguins
Mario Lemieux and Kevin Stevens led the team to a record of 39 wins, 32 losses and nine ties.
The team took seven games to get through the first round, but swept the last two series to win their second consecutive Stanley Cup.
13. 1995 New Jersey Devils
New Jersey won 22 of the 48 regular-season games. The league average was 21.
The rather average Devils team may not have even made the playoffs if it was not a strike-shortened season.
12. 1980 New York Islanders
The first of the Islanders' four consecutive cups was not exactly dominant: They won 39 games, totaling 91 points and clinching the cup in overtime after a well-known blown offsides call.
Linesman Leon Stickle admitted to missing the call on the play which gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead in Game 6. Had the Islanders not scored, the Flyers theoretically would have had a one goal lead at the end of the third period, forcing Game 7.
11. 1986 Montreal Canadiens
Going 40-33-7, the team totaled 87 standings points. Comparatively, the 1985 cup-winning Edmonton Oilers totaled 109.
If it weren’t for Steve Smith of the Edmonton Oilers scoring an own-goal to let the Calgary Flames (who Montreal defeated for the cup) win Game 7 of the second round, Montreal may not have won this.
The Oilers were a dominant 56-17-7 that season and seemed destined to win the Cup before their disastrous end.
10. 1997 Detroit Red Wings
Detroit won just 38 games in the regular season before the playoffs. They finished 10 points behind the division-winning Dallas Stars, but won when it counted.
9. 1990 Edmonton Oilers
Though it was the fifth Stanley Cup-winning team of the dynasty, this year was without Wayne Gretzky.
The team won just 38 games in the regular season, but was able to beat the top-seeded Boston Bruins in the finals.
After the dominance of the previous cup champions (Edmonton won 57 games en route to the 1984 cup), this one was not very impressive.
8. 1967 Toronto Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs have not won a Stanley Cup since this one. Though fans are certainly upset about that time frame, it can't help to know the team was anything but dominant that year.
Just 32 wins over 70 regular-season games for the most recent Toronto cup-winner.
7. 2012 Los Angeles Kings or Phoenix Coyotes
If either Western Conference team wins the cup this season, that team will have totaled the fewest regular-season points of any team since the lockout.
Still, Los Angeles’ playoff dominance is something to be admired.
6. 1935 Montreal Maroons
Two series in that season’s playoffs were determined by total goals instead of games won. The Maroons won both of those by one goal. That is after going just 24-19-5 in the regular season.
Side note: The Maroons and the original Ottawa Senators franchise are the only NHL teams to win a Stanley Cup that aren’t still operating.
5. 1949 Toronto Maple Leafs
The fourth and lowest seed, Toronto went 22-25-13 in the regular season, but ended up sweeping the first place Red Wings, who went 34-19-7 in the regular season.
4. 1945 Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto barely had a winning record in the regular season, going 24-22-4. They also nearly blew a 3-0 lead in the series before winning Game 7, 2-1.
3. 1934 Chicago Blackhawks
This might be one of the most boring teams as well. Chicago was first in the NHL in fewest goals for and fewest goals against, tied for the league lead in ties with 11 and won just 20 of 48 games.
2. 1938 Chicago Blackhawks
Two teams tied for the fewest wins this season with 12. The Blackhawks won 14 of their 48 regular-season games, but eventually won the Stanley Cup.
Chicago went 8-2 over the three playoff series, winning 66 percent as many games as they did in the regular season.
This is the worst of all because no champion exists for this season. It is quite embarrassing that the NHL could not solve off-ice issues and get hockey underway in 2004-05. As relatively bad as many of these teams were to other champions, nothing is as terrible as nobody being able to win the cup.