NHL Northeast Division: Welcome to the Best Division in Hockey
I think I can already hear the Detroit fans screaming...
Whether you like it or not, it's hard to deny that the Northeast Division is where some of the best teams in NHL history call home. Last year's Stanley Cup Champions hail from the Northeast and the other teams who fill out the division have battled for NHL supremacy year in and year out for a long time.
Sure, other divisions may boast multiple Cup-winning teams or strong fanbases, but no other group can even come close to what the entire Northeast has done throughout the years.
It also seems like this isn't going to change, either. So let's break down what makes the Northeast Division so great.
Sorry Hockeytown, You Don't Have the Best Fans
While Montreal fans may give me just as much flak as the Detroit ones, it's hard to deny how much the Toronto fans appreciate their team—a team that hasn't won the Cup since 1967 or even made the playoffs since the lockout.
Toronto season-ticket sales have a waiting list that's longer than some people lives, and they usually sell out more than 100 percent of the arena (standing room tickets)...and that's during the regular season! Oh, and did I mention that Leafs tickets are the most expensive in the league?
The Leafs fans deserve the No. 1 fan spot because of how awful the team has been for so long, and I cannot imagine that this will ever change.
Montreal's Cup Dominance Is Simply Staggering
Over the 96 years (and 94 times) that the Stanley Cup has been awarded, Montreal has won it an incredible 24 times.
Those Montreal championship teams included some of the best players to ever play in the NHL and the feats of some players will never be matched. Take Henri Richard's 11 Stanley Cup victories, or Jean Beliveau's 17 Stanley Cups as both a player and an executive. That's enough rings for him to put one on each finger and almost all of his toes!
This is undoubtedly the most storied franchise in hockey and it brings tremendous historical value to the Northeast Division.
Boston Is More Than Just a Baseball City
The Bruins round out the third team in this division from the famed Original Six, and they are also the most recent Stanley Cup winners in the NHL (in case you've been living in a cave for the past three months).
Several players on the current Bruins roster could become future Hall of Famers, and Boston has also been the home to some of the greatest ever: Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque and Phil Esposito, just name a few.
Boston brings a high level of intensity to each NHL season they take part in and are a perennial playoff team.
Though not as storied as the Montreal or Toronto franchises, Boston does its part to make the Northeast great.
Toronto vs. Montreal Rivalry Is Arguably the Best in Sports
Baseball purists will argue the greatness of New York vs. Boston and basketball fans will claim that L.A. vs. Boston is greater, but to hockey fans there is nothing more intense than a Leafs vs. Habs matchup.
Toronto and Montreal have squared off in five Stanley Cup Finals, with the final matchup coming in 1967—the last year Toronto won the Stanley Cup.
It's always exciting when these two teams face off against each other, and they are usually scheduled in to play opening night every season.
This rivalry dates back nearly a century, and is still going strong given the fact that the two cities are a short five-hour drive away from one another, and they play in the same division. The fact that this rivalry sometimes leads to intense arguments and division between friends, well I'd say it makes the Northeast that much more exciting.
The Fierceness of the Battle of Ontario
While not nearly as historical as the Montreal vs. Toronto rivalry, this provincial battle is just as fierce, if not more. The Senators even took the rivalry to the extreme when they banned Leafs jerseys from their arena!
Since the cities are only a few short hours away from one another, many Toronto fans travel to Scotiabank Place in Ottawa and vice versa. Whenever these two teams meet you can be sure the game will be intense and the crowd will be wild.
Buffalo Loves Its Hockey
The city of Buffalo doesn't have many options of professional teams to root for, and the Bills are, well...the Bills. The amazing thing about this city is that the fans don't just flock to Sabre games because they have nothing better to do, but because they love hockey just as much as anyone else.
Buffalo has had a strong team for a long time with many incredible players lacing up for them. Dominik Hasek came ever so close to leading the Sabres to a Stanley Cup victory, and Ryan Miller is currently doing his best to bring home a ring.
Buffalo is a strong hockey city with a team that is always competing, and considering how close it is to Toronto, there is yet another rivalry brewing in this division.
Crunching Some Numbers
There are plenty of stats that you could throw around, but one stands above the rest: Stanley Cups.
Since 1927, teams from the current Northeast Division have played in the Stanley Cup Finals 56 times, including several years where both teams were from this group. Out of those 56 years, the teams racked up 38 Stanley Cup victories.
It doesn't get much better than that.