There’s something to be said for parity in a professional sports league. Over the recent decades, the NHL has had many teams get their chance to hoist the Stanley Cup. Unfortunately, the Ottawa Senators are still awaiting their opportunity.
Compared to the NHL, the NBA has seemed to go through many more dynastic stretches, at least in recent decades.
Much of the lore in the NBA has been written through dynasties, and while it makes for great moments on the court, large portions of the league get left out of any meaningful highlights.
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Of course, the NHL isn’t immune to prolonged dominance of a handful of teams in recent years. Look at the New York Islanders and Edmonton Oilers in the 1980s.
A less pronounced example is how the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks seemed to alternate championships for a while starting like 5 years ago.
The NBA and NHL regular season and playoff structure mirror each other the closest out of any major North American professional sports leagues, so it makes comparisons between the two more adept than the NFL or MLB.
Since 1980, 11 different NBA teams have won a championship. During that same span in the NHL, 16 different teams have won Stanley Cups.
It’s a tad misleading on the NHL’s part, because there was a distinct period of concentrated prosperity.
From 1980-1990, only 2 Stanley Cups were won by a team besides the New York Islanders of Edmonton Oilers.
The most parity in recent years for the NHL was probably 1999-2011. In those 12 seasons (one year was lost due to the lockout), 10 different teams won Stanley Cups.
That parity has kind of evaporated in the last handful of years. Since 2009, only 4 teams have won Stanley Cups.
The Senators have been in the NHL since 1992, and teams that came into the league in the early 1990s like the Anaheim Ducks Tampa Bay Lightning have gotten their Stanley Cup.
Trends tend to cycle in and out for whatever reason, but it’s fair to note that the NBA hasn’t had any significant stretches of parity that the NHL had in the early 2000s for quite some time.
5 different teams have won NBA championships in the last 6 seasons, which is actually a relatively unusual period of parity for the NBA.
For example, no NHL team has won back-to-back championships since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. During that same time span, it has happened 4 times in the NBA, and one of them was a back-to-back-to-back championship run.
The NBA is theoretically more superstar dominant than the NHL, because only 5 players are out on the court for a team for large stretches of time.
12 of the 30 franchises in the NHL have never won a Stanley Cup, and unfortunately the Senators are among that group.
However, the Senators have made a Cup Finals, which is more than some franchises can claim. In fact, the St. Louis Blues, Arizona Coyotes, Nashville Predators, Winnipeg Jets, Minnesota Wild, and Columbus Blue Jackets have never appeared in the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Jets are an especially interesting case, because the current incarnation was originally the Atlanta Thrashers.
The original Winnipeg Jets are now the Arizona Coyotes. Whichever franchise you’re referring to, the Jets have never gotten far enough in the playoffs to appear in a Stanley Cup Finals.
The NHL has had 30 teams since 2000, so the principle of theoretical probability should dictate that a franchise never goes more than 30 years between a championship.
However, 8 NHL teams are currently in the midst of championship droughts longer than 30 years. Of those 8 teams, 5 have never won a Stanley Cup.