Los Angeles Kings and the Best No. 8 Seeds in Sports History

Eric McKelvieSenior Writer IJune 11, 2012

Los Angeles Kings and the Best No. 8 Seeds in Sports History

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    The Los Angeles Kings are 2012 Stanley Cup champions.

    The Kings dominated the NHL playoffs to win the franchise's first championship and become the first No. 8 seed in NHL history to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup.  

    The Kings join a select group of No. 8 seeds who have had success in their respective sports. This includes teams from the NHL, NBA and the NCAA.  

    With that being said, here are the top 10 eighth-seeds in sports history.

10. 1994 San Jose Sharks

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    The Sharks struggled in their first two years in the NHL, winning a combined 28 games in the 1992 and 1993 seasons.

    However, they managed to make the playoffs in their third season as the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

    The Sharks defeated the top-seeded Detroit Red Wings in seven games, becoming the first No. 8 seed to eliminate a No. 1 seed.

    Not bad for a team that set the NHL record for most losses in a season the year before with 71.

9. 2007 Golden State Warriors

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    Coming off a loss to the Miami Heat in the 2006 NBA Finals, the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks were once again expected to compete for an NBA title.

    The Mavericks' first-round opponent was the Golden State Warriors.

    The Warriors, however, led by former Dallas coach Don Nelson and point guard Baron Davis, eliminated the Mavericks in six games.

    The Warriors dominated most of the series but couldn't carry that success into the second round, as they were eliminated in five games by the Utah Jazz.

8. 2011 Memphis Grizzlies

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    The 2011 Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Western Conference’s top seed, the San Antonio Spurs, in six games.

    At the time, the series appeared to signal the end of the Spurs' dominance that had lasted more than a decade and included four championships.

    Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol were key factors in helping a young Grizzlies team eliminate an older, beat-up Spurs squad.

    The Grizzlies met the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second round, a team they’d taken three of four games from in the regular season. However, the Thunder would win the first-ever playoff series between the two franchises in a tight seven-game series. 

7. 1994 Denver Nuggets

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    After being down 2-0 in their best-of-five series with the Seattle SuperSonics in the '94 NBA playoffs, the Denver Nuggets became the first No. 8 seed to ever eliminate a No. 1 seed in league history.

    The Nuggets stormed back to win three straight against Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp and company.

    In the second round, the Nuggets once again found themselves in a 3-0 hole to the Utah Jazz. The Nuggets managed to engineer another improbable comeback to force a decisive Game 7.

    Unfortunately, the Nuggets' Cinderella run would end with a 91-81 Game 7 loss to the Jazz. 

6. 2010 Montreal Canadiens

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    The 2010 Canadiens are one of only three No. 8 seeds in NHL history to make it past the second round.

    Their success was largely due to the remarkable play of goaltender Jaroslav Halák, who had split time with Carey Price during the regular season.

    The Canadiens won back-to-back Game 7s against the Capitals and Penguins, before losing to the seventh-seeded Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference final. 

5. 2011 Butler Bulldogs

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    After losing a heartbreaker to Duke in the 2010 national championship, Butler made it back to the championship in 2011.

    An impressive feat considering Butler lost a star player in Gordon Hayward to the 2010 NBA draft.

    Butler defeated No. 9 Old Dominion, No. 1 Pittsburgh, No. 4 Wisconsin, No. 13 Florida and ended No. 11 VCU’s Cinderella run in the Final Four.

    However, Butler, led by coach Brad Stevens, fell short in the championship game, losing 53-41 to the Connecticut Huskies.

    The victory gave Huskies coach Jim Calhoun his third national championship, while Butler fans were left to wonder what could have been, again. 

4. 1999 New York Knicks

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    The 1999 New York Knicks are the only No. 8 seed to ever reach the NBA Finals, a feat that likely won’t be accomplished again in the near future.

    It was a lockout-shortened season, but that doesn’t make the Knicks' playoff run any less impressive. After beating the No. 1-seeded Miami Heat 3-2 in the opening round, the Knicks went 8-2 over their next 10 games to reach the finals.

    Even without Patrick Ewing, the Knicks managed to win a game in the NBA Finals versus the Spurs, but ultimately lost in five games. 

3. 2006 Edmonton Oilers

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    The Edmonton Oilers playoff run in 2006 brought back memories of the good times the Oilers had in the 1980s.

    It started with a huge upset with the elimination of the NHL’s best team, the Detroit Red Wings, in six games. They would eliminate the San Jose Sharks and the Anaheim Ducks before falling to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

    Why are they ranked so high?

    The Oilers were the first No. 8 seed to reach the Stanley Cup Final, and they made it all the way to Game 7, despite not having their starting goaltender. Dwayne Roloson, a likely Conn Smythe candidate at the time, was injured in Game 1 of the finals and had to sit out the rest of the series.

2. 1985 Villanova Wildcats

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    The 1985 Villanova Wildcats are the lowest seed to ever win the NCAA men’s basketball championship.

    It was the first year the NCAA tournament featured 64 teams and its last year without a shot clock.

    The eighth-seeded Villanova Wildcats defeated No. 9 Dayton, No. 1 Michigan, No. 5 Maryland and No. 2 North Carolina on their way to the championship game.

    The Wildcats then beat No. 1 Georgetown, who were led by Patrick Ewing, 66-64, to take the title.

    The Wildcats' win is still considered one of the biggest upsets in college basketball history.

1. 2012 Los Angeles Kings

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    The 2012 Los Angeles Kings are the first No. 8 seed in the NHL or NBA to win the title.

    The Kings eliminated the top three seeds in the Western Conference, a remarkable feat for any team, regardless of their seed. Even more impressive, they thoroughly dominated their opponents, going 12-2 in the first three rounds of the playoffs. 

    They eliminated the Presidents' Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks, the second-seeded St. Louis Blues and the third-seeded Phoenix Coyotes on their way to the finals.

    The Kings then capped off the historic feat by defeating the New Jersey Devils in a six-game series to win the Stanley Cup, ending Martin Brodeur's bid for a fourth championship.

    It will be tough for future cup winners, let alone No. 8 seeds, to dominate the way the Kings did, finishing 16-4 in the playoffs.