For the first time in 77 years, the Chicago Blackhawks were able to win the Stanley Cup in their home arena. For the first time in six games, a team led a Stanley Cup Final game by more than one goal (Chicago won the final game, 2-0). And for the first time since the 2002 Detroit Red Wings, an NHL team has won the best trophy in sports for the third time in six years.
There are many sportswriters and analysts quick to call this a dynasty. ESPN’s Scott Burnside went so far as to say that this current Blackhawks run ranks fifth in his dynastic ladder of the last 60 years. He ranked the Blackhawks over the Toronto Maple Leafs teams of the ’60s, the Montreal Canadiens teams of the same decade and the late-’90s Red Wings teams that also won in 2002.
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Of the eight teams that Burnside listed, the Chicago Blackhawks stand out as being the only organization to never win back-to-back Stanley Cups. Now I could just be nitpicking, but that significantly stands out on their small list of failed accomplishments.
The NHL salary cap has been in place for 10 years now, and not one team has won back-to-back titles in this new era. The Red Wings were one goal away in 2009 from pulling off the feat, but they fell short to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7.
So there’s almost no excuse for them not winning the Stanley Cup in back-to-back years. Well, I guess there is the greatness of the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings have traded titles with the Blackhawks for the last four years, with each team winning two Cups apiece. They have even split two series with each other, both in the Western Conference Final.
If this pattern continues, the Los Angeles Kings will win the Stanley Cup next season, leaving the Chicago Blackhawks in their dust. Or perhaps the champions can end the 17-year drought of an NHL team winning back-to-back titles.
The small downside is that teams simply don’t repeat in the salary-cap era. Parity is so widespread in the NHL that even the slightest difference in energy level, health and hunger to win can swing a series. The Blackhawks have shown that they’re a special group, and if anyone can do it, they can.
If anyone can do it, it’s the Blackhawks. Will they do it? That remains to be seen as the short, hot summer begins for the newly crowned champions. Decisions will have to be made on some role players, but as long as they have Toews and Kane and Keith, the Windy City should always play well into May and June.
However, until this team can win the Stanley Cup in consecutive years, the Blackhawks shouldn’t be considered a dynasty. Any dynasty in world history held reign over its counterparts for consecutive years. Not every other year. This is simply a nice run for one of the league’s “Original Six” teams.