Even before they won their respective conference championships, the Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils were the logical picks to go to last year’s Stanley Cup Finals. Those who tactically assessed the two matchups and those who swore by historical omens could have agreed on that front.
The Devils were not only better rested than the New York Rangers and the Kings were not only riding a more powerful gust of momentum than the Phoenix Coyotes, but New Jersey had eliminated Philadelphia from the opening round and the Kings had dislodged the Vancouver Canucks in the first round.
Since 2007, the Flyers and Canucks have tended to see the team that knocks them out of the playoffs go on to the final round. Pittsburgh did it on the Eastern front in both 2008 and 2009, as did Boston in 2011, while Anaheim and Chicago did it out West in 2007 and 2010, respectively.
Going back to the final season before the lockout, Tampa Bay and Calgary met to settle the 2004 championship after a trek that included a victimization of Philadelphia and Vancouver, respectively.
Entering the 2012 tournament, that was four out of six intra-conference Flyers grounders and three out of four Canucks conquerors proceeding to the final frontier. The Devils and Kings happened to make it five out of seven and four out of five.
Entering the next NHL season, there is at least one similar good omen to be had for all 30 franchises. If nothing else, a fanbase can have fun with them and keep them in handy for whenever a morale boost is in order.
Seven years into his full-time professional coaching career, Bruce Boudreau won his first championship with the ECHL’s Mississippi Sea Wolves in 1999. Seven years later, he won another title at the next level with the AHL’s Hershey Bears in 2006.
Come springtime 2013, seven more years will have passed since that AHL title.
Other than their first and most recent titles in 1929 and 2011, the Bruins’ championships have come in sets of two spaced over three seasons. That is, they won the Cup in 1939 and 1941 before going on a 29-year drought and again in 1970 and 1972 before an ensuing 39-year hex.
Even if it meant waiting until 2062 for the team’s eighth banner, you think New England puckheads would take a title in 2013 in continuation of this trivial trend?
Each of the last two Conn Smythe Trophy winners, Tim Thomas and Jonathan Quick, were members of the 2010 U.S. Men’s Olympic team. Naturally, the odd man out is the Sabres’ own Ryan Miller, but perhaps 2013 will be his turn to complete the hat trick.
Here is a quick, chronological summary of the last four champions and their fate during the preceding season.
The 2009 Penguins had lost in the 2008 finals. The 2010 Blackhawks had lost in the 2009 conference finals. The 2011 Bruins had lost in the 2010 conference semifinals. The 2012 Kings had lost in the 2011 conference quarterfinals, otherwise known as the first round.
Granted, they will have abundant company in this regard, but next year’s Flames will be one of 14 teams coming off a non-playoff season.
Roy would repeat his feat upon backstopping Montreal to another title in 1993. Come next spring, an identical seven years will have passed since Carolina’s moment of glory.
If you include the season that never was in 2004-05, the Avs have twice endured the same basic result in back-to-back years during their history.
In both 1999 and 2000, Colorado lost in the third round of the postseason, but then won the Cup in 2001.
For the next decade, each spring yielded a slightly different result from its predecessor. That was until both 2011 and 2012, when Colorado missed consecutive playoffs.
The Columbus Crew, the Blue Jackets’ only companion on the major sports scene in Ohio’s capital, commenced operation in 1996 and won its first MLS Cup in 2008, their 13th year of existence.
The Jackets commenced operation in 2000-01. The next Stanley Cup, if all goes according to plan, will be doled out in the year 2012-13, their 13th year of existence.
Although there will have been a lengthy gap in between this time around, the Stars’ next playoff run will be their first since a loss to the eventual champion Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Finals in 2008.
The Red Wings’ only championship in the post-Scotty Bowman, post-Steve Yzerman era was in 2008, roughly 20 months after owner Mike Ilitch’s other team, the Tigers, put in an appearance in the 2006 baseball playoffs.
The Tigers made the playoffs again in 2011 and roughly 20 months will have elapsed by the time the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals are supposed to take place.
It’s the same concept as the Stars here. The Oilers’ most recent playoff run ended in defeat in the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals.
Only one other time in franchise history has Edmonton finished as the losing finalist. That would be in 1983, after which the Oilers won the Cup to cap off their next postseason venture in 1984.
Five of the last six Cup winners had rebounded from a playoff loss to the team that went on to win the conference and/or Cup.
Anaheim lost to Edmonton before winning it all in 2007, victimizing the eventual 2008 champion Detroit team on that ride. Pittsburgh avenged its Cup final loss to the Red Wings in 2009, an arrangement made possible by Detroit’s triumph over Chicago the preceding round.
The Blackhawks bounced back and abolished Philadelphia for the 2010 title before one of the Flyers’ vanquished adversaries, namely Boston, supplanted the Hawks as champions in 2011.
The Kings bucked this trend this year, but the Panthers could rapidly revive it if they rise again after the eventual Eastern Conference champion Devils bumped them out of the first round in 2012.
Since the Staples Center opened in 1999, those of its tenants who have won championships have done so in uninterrupted bunches.
The Lakers won three straight NBA titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002, then took back-to-back crowns in 2009 and 2010. In the midst of that three-peat, the Sparks won their two WNBA playoff titles in 2001 and 2002.
Lately, Cup-winning captains have been checking off milestones.
Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Chicago’s Jonathan Toews lowered the youngest-age record in consecutive years―2009 and 2010, respectively. Sandwiching those years, Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom of Sweden and Boston’s Zdeno Chara of Slovakia each became the first NHL championship captains of their nationality.
Mikko Koivu of Finland can still break new ice on behalf of his homeland.
The Habs' last title was in 1993, meaning it will have been precisely 20 years come this spring. But Montreal also claimed the Cup 20 years prior in 1973 and another 20 years beforehand in 1953.
Could there be something about calendar years ending in an odd number and a “3,” perhaps? (Or, “per-Habs?”)
Two summers ago, when the Bruins were trying to assert themselves as Cup contenders but on the heels of back-to-back second-round losses, there were rumors of Thomas going to Philadelphia.
Regardless of how much there was to those rumors, it didn’t happen. Instead, he returned to his original NHL employer and backstopped a banner year.
This summer, with the Predators on the heels of back-to-back second-round losses while trying to assert themselves as Cup contenders, there was fear that blueliner Shea Weber was going to Philadelphia.
It didn’t happen. Instead, he is coming back to Nashville for the next year and many more thereafter.
The last time a losing finalist came back to win the Cup the following year was also the last set of Stanley Cup Finals to sandwich a U.S. Presidential election, namely when Pittsburgh won in 2008-09.
Each of the last four champions have started their season overseas as part of the NHL Premiere.
There will be no regular-season games outside of North America in 2012-13, but the site of an Islanders’ preseason tilt, the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, is also slated to host a pair of KHL games this winter.
The Hudson River Rivalry has been renewed twice in the Eastern Conference finals. The first time, in 1994, the Rangers vanquished the Devils in an overtime clincher, though New Jersey would rebound from that loss to win the 1995 Stanley Cup.
In 2012, the Devils had their turn zapping the Rangers in overtime to claim the Prince of Wales Trophy.
Head coach Peter Laviolette has followed the exact same pattern as the aforementioned Boudreau. His championship trophy case consists of a Calder Cup with the Providence Bruins in 1999 and a Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006.
The last two times there were protracted labor talks in the NHL―work stoppage or not―the Cup stayed within the division and went to a franchise that had relocated from another city.
In 1994-95, the Devils, previously the Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Scouts, claimed the title previously held by the Atlantic Division rival Rangers. In 2005-06, the Hurricanes, once known as the Hartford Whalers, succeeded their Southeast Division cohabitants from Tampa Bay as champions.
In the coming season, the original Winnipeg Jets will be looking to finish what was left undone against their fellow Pacific Division tenants from Los Angeles, the incumbent champion.
The Consol Energy Center hosted the most recent NHL entry draft, regarded by some as the first major event of a new season. It will be the site of the NCAA Frozen Four, hockey’s single-most prestigious championship exclusive to the United States, this coming spring.
Gee, how could the city and the venue complete a 2012-13 hat trick?
If Miller and the Sabres fall short, then Wisconsin alumnus and current Blues stopper Brian Elliott could still keep up the trend of former NCAA goalies claiming the Conn Smythe.
Sharks head coach Todd McLellan will vie to pave a championship pattern somewhat similar to what Boudreau and Laviolette are hoping for.
McLellan has previously coached the Houston Aeros to the 2003 Calder Cup and been an assistant on Mike Babcock’s championship staff with the Red Wings in 2008.
The Lightning’s only banner campaign to date, 2003-04, was in its second season playing at an arena that answered to the name St. Pete Times Forum. The next season will be the mansion’s second season under the moniker of the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
The Canucks are the fifth team to have won the Presidents' Trophy in back-to-back years since its 1985-86 inception.
Whether they did it in the second year or the year they relinquished the regular-season crown, each of those four predecessors went on to win the Cup.
The Oilers were regular-season champions in 1986 and 1987 and playoff champions in 1987. Calgary claimed the Presidents' Trophy in 1988 and 1989, then justified that success with a Cup in 1989.
The Red Wings traded in their 1995 and 1996 Presidents' Trophies for the NHL’s last pair of consecutive playoff titles in 1997 and 1998. The Stars were the regular-season champs in both 1998 and 1999, the latter year culminating in a Cup.
The last three champions from Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago have each ended a championship drought in the 30- or 40-year range. In addition, by merely reaching the finals, all three teams also snapped a hiatus from the championship round that dragged on into teen years.
As it happens, the Capitals have never won a Cup in 38 going on 39 years of operation and, come spring, will not have been to the finals in 15 years.
Having been first awarded in 1893, the Stanley Cup has existed in three different calendar centuries. Once in each of the first two, a team from Winnipeg has won the Cup in a year whose four numerals add up to a number divisible by six.
Not only that, Winnipeg won in the first such year of each century.
Today, having just returned to existence in 2011 after their predecessors left in 1996, the Winnipeg Jets are raring to embark on a season that will culminate in 2013 (2 + 0 + 1 + 3 = 6).