Each NHL Franchise's Worst Moment in History

Alex H@Alexhoegler27Correspondent IFebruary 1, 2013

Each NHL Franchise's Worst Moment in History

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    The NHL has everything: drama, intensity, rivalries, fights, excitement, happiness, heartbreak and, of course, memorable moments.

    The reality of being an NHL fan or player is dealing with all sorts of emotions. There are plenty of moments that we will always cherish, while there are others that we would love to forget.

    Each NHL franchise has had some incredible moments, but they've all also suffered from heartbreak in one way or another.

    Here is a look at each NHL franchise's worst all-time moment.

Anaheim Ducks: Losing in the 2003 Stanley Cup Final

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    The Anaheim Ducks (Mighty Ducks at the time) entered the playoffs as the seventh seed in the Western Conference.

    In the first round, no one believed they could beat the Detroit Red Wings, who happened to be the defending Cup champs.

    But the Ducks did exactly that, pulling off a stunning four-game sweep, thanks in large part to the incredible play of goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

    The Ducks then took out the top-seeded Dallas Stars in six games, before sweeping the Minnesota Wild (in which Giguere surrendered a single goal during the series.)

    Unfortunately, the Cinderella run was all for nothing. Thanks to the stellar play of New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur, who had three shutouts in the finals, the Ducks found themselves on the losing end in seven games.

    Giguere took home the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, but the Ducks fell one game short of glory.

Boston Bruins: Blowing a 3-0 Series Lead to Philadelphia in 2010

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    The Boston Bruins were the Eastern Conference's sixth seed entering the 2010 postseason. After pulling off a first-round upset against the Buffalo Sabres, they had the luxury of home-ice advantage for the Conference semifinals.

    The Bruins hosted the Philadelphia Flyers and cruised through the first three games to take a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 series lead.

    The Flyers proceeded to win the next three games, and a seventh game at the TD Garden was required.

    It appeared as though the Bruins were going to escape misery, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first period; however, the Flyers scored four unanswered goals and pulled off the incredible comeback.

    Boston was left to wonder what went wrong.

Buffalo Sabres: Controversal OT Goal Costs Sabres Stanley Cup

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    The 1999 Buffalo Sabres weren't your typical seventh seed. Entering the postseason, they weren't expected to go far into the postseason.

    They did just that, eliminating the Ottawa Senators, Boston Bruins and ultimately, the Toronto Maple Leafs. They faced off against the Dallas Stars for the Stanley Cup.

    With the Sabres trailing the series 3-2, the series shifted back to Buffalo. The game was tied 1-1 going into triple overtime.

    Brett Hull found a loose puck in front of the net and scored on Dominik Hasek. The goal was allowed, but closer replay says that it probably shouldn't have been.

    Back then, rules stated a player could not score a goal with any part of his body entering the crease, but league officials stated that he had possession of the puck first, thus stating the goal was legal.

    The Sabres were two wins away from the Cup, and they have yet to make it back there since.

Calgary Flames: Losing in the 2004 Stanley Cup Final

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    The Calgary Flames were a sixth seed entering the 2004 playoffs, but that didn't stop them from pulling off three upsets. They eliminated the No. 3 seed Vancouver Canucks, then the heavily favored President Trophy Red Wings and then the second-seeded San Jose Sharks.

    Goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff was incredible and a centerpiece in eliminating the top three seeds in the West.

    The Flames took three separate leads in the series by winning Games 1, 3 and 5. They lost in Game 6 thanks to a double-overtime goal by Martin St. Louis. Despite being dominated, the Flames fell just one goal short, ultimately losing Game 7, 2-1.

    To make matters worse, the Flames were robbed of a potential go-ahead goal late in Game 6, which cost them and their fans the Stanley Cup.

Carolina Hurricanes: Losing in the 2002 Stanley Cup Final

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    The Carolina Hurricanes surprised the entire NHL by winning the Southeast Division, resulting in the Eastern Conference's third seed.

    Carolina finished off the back-to-back Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Devils in five games, then cruised by Montreal and Toronto to make its first-ever Cup appearance.

    Unfortunately, the momentum did not carry into the Stanley Cup Final.

    The Hurricanes ran into a Red Wings team loaded with future Hall of Famers, most notably players such as Nicklas Lidstrom, Brendan Shanahan, Luc Robitaille, Dominik Hasek, Igor Larionov and Steve Yzerman.

    The Red Wings made easy work of the 'Canes, defeating them in five games.

Chicago Blackhawks: Blowing a 2-0 Lead in Game 7 of 1971 Cup Final

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    The Chicago Blackhawks were searching for their first Stanley Cup title in 10 years. They were heavily favored to beat the Montreal Canadiens and potentially end their dynasty.

    The Blackhawks jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but goalie Tony Esposito gave up a goal from center ice, courtesy of a Jacques Lemaire slap shot.

    Henri Richard helped cap off the shocking comeback, scoring near the end of the second period and the eventual game-winner early in the third.

    Chicago wouldn't win another Cup for 39 years.

Colorado Avalanche: Losing to Minnesota in the 2003 Playoffs

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    The Minnesota Wild were a three-year-old franchise making its first-ever playoff appearance, finishing sixth in the West. They were forced to play the Northwest champion Colorado Avalanche in the opening round.

    Colorado was loaded with talent, which included Art Ross Trophy-winner Peter Forsberg, Rocket Richard trophy winner Milan Hejduk (who scored 50 goals), Joe Sakic, Rob Blake and Patrick Roy.

    The Avalanche were expected to take out the Wild with ease, and it seemed like that would happen after taking a 3-1 series lead.

    But the Avalanche ended up losing the final three games, including a heartbreaking Game 7 overtime loss. 

    To make matters worse, this was the last game for Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Lone Playoff Appearance Results in 4-Game Sweep

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    The Columbus Blue Jackets had finally made their first postseason appearance as a franchise in 2009. They were forced to play the Detroit Red Wings, who were out to defend their Stanley Cup title.

    The Blue Jackets didn't put up much of a fight at all, being swept by the Red Wings. To add insult to injury, the series-winning goal was scored in the last minute of Game 4.

    Columbus has come nowhere close to a playoff berth since.

Dallas Stars: Failing to Defend Their Cup Title in 2000

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    The Dallas Stars won the Stanley Cup in 1999. They seemed destined to successfully retain the Cup championship.

    That came to a crashing halt once they met the Martin Brodeur-led New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup Final.

    With the Devils leading the series 3-2, Game 6 went into double overtime.

    Jason Arnott was left alone in front of the net and scored the game winner, thus crushing the Stars' hope of a successful title defense.

Detroit Red Wings: Blowing a 3-0 Lead in the 1942 Stanley Cup Final

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    The 1942 Detroit Red Wings finished fourth in league standings, which was good enough for a playoff spot.

    Led by Don Grosso and Sid Abel, the Red Wings made it all the way to the Cup Final, playing the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    The series seemed to be all but over after the Red Wings took a commanding 3-0 series lead.

    The Maple Leafs ended up winning the next four games, becoming the first team to successfully come back against such a deficit. It was also the first Stanley Cup final that required seven games.

    The Red Wings pulled off the greatest collapse in Stanley Cup Final history.

Edmonton Oilers: Losing in the 2006 Stanley Cup Final

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    The 2006 Edmonton Oilers were yet another example of a nearly completed Cinderella run.

    As a No. 8 seed, they knocked out the league's top team—Detroit Red Wings—followed by upsets of the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks,

    Behind a red-hot Dwayne Roloson, the Oilers rode plenty of momentum to the Stanley Cup Final, where they met the Carolina Hurricanes.

    The Oilers lost Roloson for the series in Game 1, but Jussi Markkanen did an exceptional job replacing him.

    The Oilers were down 3-1 in the series but won the next two games to set up a thrilling Game 7.

    Down 2-1, the Oilers got an early third-period goal. Despite some incredible chances, Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward held his ground, and the Hurricanes won the Cup. The Hurricanes prevailed, 3-1.

    The Oilers were so close but came up just short. They haven't made the playoffs since.

Florida Panthers: Swept in the 1996 Stanley Cup Final

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    The Florida Panthers made the Stanley Cup Final in 1996. Incredibly, the franchise was only three years old at the time.

    The Panthers won their division and surprisingly made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.

    Unfortunately for them, the Colorado Avalanche had way too much firepower on offense, and goalie Patrick Roy shut down the Panthers' attack.

    The series wasn't even close. The Panthers were eliminated in a four-game sweep.

    It didn't help that the Cup-clinching goal was scored in triple overtime by Uwe Krupp in front of the Panthers fans.

Los Angeles Kings: Losing in the 1993 Stanley Cup Final

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    Wayne Gretzky's incredible 1992-93 campaign wasn't enough to net the Los Angeles Kings their first Stanley Cup.

    Los Angeles had taken out the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames, and then finished the Toronto Maple Leafs in a thrilling seven-game series.

    The Kings then played the Montreal Canadiens for the Cup and took Game 1.

    But the Kings proceeded to lose the next five and were unable to bring California its first championship.

    It would be another 19 years until the Kings got back to the final, winning it in 2012.

    But a magical 1993 season ended in heartbreaking fashion.

Minnesota Wild: Offense Doesn't Show in 2003 Western Conference Final

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    The Minnesota Wild became the first team to erase two 3-1 series deficits, defeating the Colorado Avalanche and then the Vancouver Canucks in two of the most memorable playoff series in recent memory.

    Only three years old, the Wild franchise had home advantage for the Western Conference Final. Then they met J.S. Giguere and the Anaheim Ducks.

    The Wild scored one goal in the series, which didn't occur until Game 4, and were swept by Anaheim.

    The Wild have not won a playoff series since.

Montreal Canadiens: Howie Morenz Dies During Playing Career

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    Howie Morenz is widely considered the first true superstar of hockey.

    He led the Montreal Canadiens to three Stanley Cup championships, led the league in scoring twice and won three Hart Trophies as league MVP.

    He also led the Habs in goals and points for seven straight seasons and placed among the top 10 league scorers for 10 straight seasons.

    After brief stints with the Chicago Blackhawks and the New York Rangers, he was traded back to the Habs.

    Tragically, he suffered a career-ending leg injury that also took his life. He crashed into the boards, and Hawks defenseman Earl Seibert landed on him.

    Morenz died in the hospital just over a month later, and 50,000 people paid their respects at his funeral.

Nashville Predators: 2012 Stanley Cup Quest Ends in the Desert

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    The Nashville Predators made easy work of the Detroit Red Wings in the 2012 playoffs, defeating their divisional foes in five games.

    The Predators then had a seemingly more favorable matchup versus the Phoenix Coyotes in the second round.

    Nashville had a better goaltender, more size and a better offense, but were strongly outplayed by the Coyotes and ended up losing in five games.

New Jersey Devils: Losing to Colorado in the 2001 Stanley Cup Final

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    The New Jersey Devils came into the 2001 Stanley Cup Final looking to defend their Stanley Cup title. To do that, they had to get past the star-studded Colorado Avalanche.

    It was a tight series, and the Devils had a 3-2 series lead going back to New Jersey.

    New Jersey was blown out at home, and ultimately lost 3-1 to the Avalanche in Game 7.

    The Devils would win the Cup two years later, but this Cup loss ruined what could have been an NHL dynasty.

New York Islanders: Trading for Alexei Yashin

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    The New York Islanders held the second overall pick in the 2001 NHL draft. Instead of using that pick, they traded it to Ottawa, along with Zdeno Chara and Bill Muckalt, to acquire forward Alexei Yashin from the Ottawa Senators. New York immediately signed Yashin to a 10-year contract worth $87.5 million.

    The Senators ended up drafting Jason Spezza, who has become a franchise cornerstone. Chara, although not with Ottawa anymore, was a stud on the Sens blueline and has established himself as one of the league's top defensemen.

    Yashin played just five seasons with the Islanders and was very inconsistent, scoring 20-plus goals just three of those seasons—not worth the package they sent to Ottawa.

    New York bought out the remainder of his contract in 2007.

New York Rangers: Signing Chris Drury, Scott Gomez and Wade Redden

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    The New York Rangers thought they were adding two All-Stars when they signed forwards Chris Drury to a five-year, $35.5 million dollar contract and Scott Gomez to a seven-year, $51.5 million contract.

    Gomez was just two years removed from a 33-goal campaign; the Rangers thought they had that. Instead, they had a player who didn't come close to that. He struggled to score consistently and was eventually shipped to the Montreal Canadiens.

    Drury scored 37 goals with the Buffalo Sabres in 2007, before signing with the Rangers. He was not a consistent scorer, and did not provide the offensive spark they were hoping for. 

    The Rangers bought out his contract in the summer of 2011.

    The next year, the Rangers signed Wade Redden to a six-year, $39 million contract. The Rangers were hoping to get a top-two defenseman to help their special teams.

    Redden played just two years with the Rangers, coming nowhere close to the numbers he had consistently put up with the Ottawa Senators.

    The Rangers bought out his contract prior to the 2013 season.

    In the span of a year, the Rangers spent a ton of cash on underachieving players. Who knows what other big-named free agents they could have signed with all that dough.

Ottawa Senators: Losing in the 2007 Stanley Cup Final

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    The Ottawa Senators were a dangerous team in 2007. The top line of Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson was deadly.

    Ottawa outscored the offensive juggernaut Pittsburgh Penguins, dominated the New Jersey Devils dominant defense and knocked out the President Trophy-winner Buffalo Sabres—all in five games.

    The Senators then played the Anaheim Ducks, and their offense was shut down by the Ducks checking line of Travis Moen, Rob Niedermayer and Samuel Pahlsson. 

    Anaheim outscored the nonexistent secondary of the Sens easily en route to a Stanley Cup title—winning it in five games.

    Ottawa has not won a playoff series since that heartbreaking defeat.

Philadelphia Flyers: Losing to Chicago in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final

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    The Philadelphia Flyers made the playoffs on the final day of the 2010 regular season, even though they were just a seventh seed.

    They knocked out the New Jersey Devils, rallied from a 3-0 series deficit against the Boston Bruins, and steamrolled the Montreal Canadiens—including the red-hot goaltender Jaroslav Halak.

    The big, bad Flyers ran into a team that was even tougher than they were—the Chicago Blackhawks. It was an incredibly close series with four of the six games decided by a single goal.

    Philadelphia trailed the series, 3-2, and tied up Game 6 late to send it into overtime.

    Somehow Patrick Kane got the puck past Flyers goaltender Michael Leighton, and the Flyers lost the Stanley Cup on home ice.

Phoenix Coyotes: Losing in the 2012 Western Conference Final

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    Few expected the Phoenix Coyotes to make the playoffs in 2012. Fewer expected them to win the Pacific Division. Almost no one expected them to make it to the Western Conference Final.

    The Coyotes got red hot at the right time, and behind workhorse goaltender Mike Smith, they found themselves playing in the third round. The Coyotes had not won a playoff series since moving to Glendale.

    After getting past the tough, intimidating Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators, the Coyotes had home-ice advantage and plenty of momentum going into the West Final.

    Phoenix lost to the eventual Cup champs—the Los Angeles Kings—in five games, including losing all three games at home.

    A trip to the Stanley Cup would have probably sealed the Coyotes' fate with a stay in the desert, but now that seems unlikely.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Losing to the New York Islanders in 1993 Playoffs

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins entered the 1992-93 season as back-to-back Stanley Cup champions.

    The season was a memorable one, with top player Mario Lemieux being diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease. Despite missing 24 games, Lemieux recovered and won the Art Ross Trophy. The Penguins also set a record, 17 consecutive wins, which still stands today.

    All the pieces were there for a three-peat, but that didn't happen.

    Going up against the heavy underdog New York Islanders, the Penguins were pushed to a seventh game that went into overtime.

    David Volek of the Islanders scored in overtime to end the Penguins' reign as league champions.

    Another potential dynasty that was ruined.

San Jose Sharks: First Round Exit Following First President's Trophy

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    2009 seemed like it would finally be the year that the San Jose Sharks would get over the hump as playoff chokers and finally win their first Stanley Cup.

    The Sharks won the Presidents' Trophy as the league's top regular-season team, finishing with 117  points.

    Their offense was perilous, with six 20-goal scorers: Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, Devin Setoguchi, Ryan Clowe and Milan Michalek. Defensemen Rob Blake and Dan Boyle also chipped in with double-digit goals.

    San Jose had a first-round meeting with the Anaheim Ducks. But it was another year of playoff disappointment for the Sharks.

    They were outplayed and dominated by the Ducks, who beat them in six games.

    The Sharks are still looking for their first Stanley Cup appearance, but this one has to hurt the most.

St. Louis Blues: Bobby Orr Sends the Blues Home Empty-Handed

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    The St. Louis Blues were part of the NHL's great expansion in 1967. They would make it to the Cup Final three consecutive years, from 1968 to 1970.

    But none hurt more than the one against the Boston Bruins in 1970.

    With the Bruins leading the series 3-0, Game 4 went into overtime. The Blues had a chance to keep the series going, but then infamy.

    Bobby Orr scored and went flying through the air to win the Cup for the Bruins. The goal is arguably the biggest, most famous in NHL history. The St. Louis Blues were the victim of this incredible moment.

    The Blues have gone 42 years without making it back to the Stanley Cup Final.

Tampa Bay Lightning: 1 Goal Short of 2011 Stanley Cup Appearance

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    The Tampa Bay Lightning were a pleasant surprise in 2011. They upset the Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening round and swept the top-seeded Washington Capitals.

    The Lightning then played the Boston Bruins to determine the Eastern Conference champion.

    Tampa Bay was, by far, the better team in the series, but Tim Thomas made up for his team's inconsistent play throughout the series.

    The Lightning took the series all the way to Game 7, but surrendered a late goal to Nathan Horton in Game 7, and lost 1-0.

    After an incredible, surprising season, the Lightning were one goal away from eliminating eventual Cup champs.

Toronto Maple Leafs: The Death of Bill Barilko

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    Bill Barilko was a defenseman for the Toronto Maple Leafs during their dynasty years in the late 1940s and early '50s.

    He was known for punishing opponents with his body, hence the nickname "Bashing Bill."

    Despite being a stay-at-home defenseman, he scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal for the Leafs in 1951, during overtime in Game 5.

    That summer, he and his friend went on a fishing trip, but their plane crashed and wasn't found for 11 years.

    The Maple Leafs struggled mightily and did not win another Cup until Barilko and his companion were discovered in 1962.

    Barilko will always be a hero to the Maple Leafs, but his early death at age 24 in the midst of his career strongly affected the Leafs organization, and still does today.

Vancouver Canucks: Losing the 2011 Stanley Cup Final

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    The Vancouver Canucks had their best season in franchise history. They captured the Presidents' Trophy, with a league-leading 117 points, led the league in goals (262) and surrendered the least total goals (185).

    Daniel Sedin won the Art Ross Trophy, and Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider shared the William M. Jennings Trophy as the top goalie tandem who surrendered the least amount of goals.

    Vancouver finally defeated their archrival the Chicago Blackhawks in the opening round, then got past the Nashville Predators, before dominating the San Jose Sharks in the West Final.

    The Canucks played the Boston Bruins for the Stanley Cup. After horrific efforts in Games 3, 4 and 6, the Canucks and Bruins faced off for a winner-take-all Game 7. The Canucks played one of their worst games of the season, losing 4-0.

    Despite a successful season, the season was overshadowed by a terrible performance in the Cup Final.

    To make the defeat even worse, a riot broke out in downtown Vancouver following the loss.

Washington Capitals: Losing to Montreal in the 2010 Playoffs

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    The Washington Capitals finished the 2009-10 campaign with 121 points, which led the league. They also scored the most goals, a ridiculous total of 318, which was 46 more than the second-closest team.

    Washington had two 100-plus-point scorers in Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom and had seven 20-plus goal scorers. Defenseman Mike Green had 19.

    The Capitals were expected to steamroll the Montreal Canadiens, but the Habs played much better than expected.

    Although the series was led by the Capitals (3-1), they had no answer for Habs goalie Jaroslav Halak, who shut down the Capitals high-powered offense from Games 5 to 7.

    Washington ended up losing Game 7 2-1, and an incredible season was met with an untimely, unexpected and heartbreaking playoff exit.

Winnipeg Jets: Drafting Patrik Stefan 1st Overall in 1999

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    The Winnipeg Jets are in just their second season of existence, and they have not yet had a disappointing moment.

    So we will go back to 1999 when they were in Atlanta.

    Vancouver Canucks GM Brian Burke convinced the Atlanta Thrashers to take Patrik Stefan with the first overall pick so that they could draft the Sedin Twins.

    Atlanta did just that, but Stefan did not pan out.

    The Sedins have gone on to become two of the game's brightest stars, and form a deadly one-two punch.

    While the 1999 NHL draft wasn't one of the better ones in recent memory, there were plenty of players who have gone on to have more successful careers than Stefan.