Guest Author - Kevin Thorburn
National Hockey League dynasties are teams that came together to dominate the league to the extent that they would go virtually unchallenged in their quest for the Stanley Cup for a stretch of consecutive years. There are no dynasties any longer and as the league stands – in terms of rules and priorities – the dynasty has gone the way of the proverbial dodo.
Teams that can claim the moniker of being a dynasty include: the Ottawa Senators from 1919-20 to 1926-27; the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1946-47 to 1950-51; the Detroit Red Wings from 1949-50 to 1954-55; the Montreal Canadiens from 1956-57 to 1959-60; the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1961-62 to 1966-67; the Montreal Canadiens from 1964-65 to 1968-69; the Montreal Canadiens from 1975-76 to 1978-79; the New York Islanders from 1979-80 to 1982-83; and the Edmonton Oilers from 1983-84 to 1989-90.
That means there has not been a legitimate hockey dynasty in 18 years. Is there a team that comes close today? Actually, in many respects, yes. The Pittsburgh Penguins have had all the makings of a dynasty for a number of years. The Detroit Red Wings come close as well. It is no coincidence that these teams met in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs.
With exceptional players such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, Marion Hossa, Ryan Whitney, Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Malone the team has looked poised to dominate the league. Due to free agency, they have already lost Hossa and Malone. While they will almost certainly be shopping for replacements, team chemistry plays a huge factor when attempting to consistently win games and that is nearly impossible to achieve when your roster is constantly changing.
Although an older team than the Penguins, the Red Wings are formidable with the likes of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Dominik Hasek and Chris Osgood. After winning the championship this year they even stole Marian Hossa from their Eastern rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Detroit tries to achieve the team chemistry by having the stability of veteran players and they use a more European style of play – which works in this “new” era of hockey with less emphasis on physical play and more on scoring.
Due to free agency and the salary cap these teams (nor any other) will not achieve the ranks of a true dynasty. The structure of the league as it now stands makes it impossible to implement the tools necessary for the building of a truly dominant team. As well, with the NHL trying to sell their product to new cities and new fans, it is not in their best interests to have a single dominant team. They need teams like Tampa Bay and Carolina to be able to put together a Stanley Cup winning season in order to build a fan base in their respective areas and survive. The league is structured for mediocrity and survival. These things are not congruent for a dynasty to exist.