Since 1893 Canadians have battled it out on the ice for ownership of the Stanley Cup (also known as the Holy Grail). But only since 1914 did the North begin to open this competition to their Southern brethren. In 1926 the expansion of the National Hockey League now engulfed all leagues competing for the Stanley Cup. The League now consists of 24 American and 7 Canadian teams split into four divisions. Over time the Cup grew taller and taller to accommodate for inscriptions of the winning teams' names and year.
During the regular season, from early October to April, each team fights out 82 games for division titles and placements to then watch 16 teams (more than half the league) move to the playoffs. The Stanley Cup playoffs from May to mid June provide the only team title that matters; the stats from the 82 regular season games are wiped clean. There should be more of an incentive to fight hard in regular season.
However, the thrilling nature of this game excites the young and the old as crowds are fired up to heckle and enjoy the gore. Arenas are filled all the way up to nosebleed seats to see some fast-paced action-- even during regular season.
But do you remember the last time these teams competed in the Stanley Cup Final?
San Jose Sharks
After 25 years in the NHL, this year the San Jose Sharks finally made it to the Stanley Cup Final. Though they lost four of the six games to the Pittsburg Penguins, many people didn't anticipate this Bay Area team would go far in postseason. However, when they started the first round with a win against the Los Angeles Kings NHL fans began to take them a little more seriously. Unfortunately the postseason ended early for the Sharks this 2017 due to a humiliating defeat by their division mates the Edmonton Oilers.
Founded in 1909, this club is the longest professional run hockey team worldwide. Before this franchise, Montreal teams (Shamrocks, Wanderers, AAA, Victorias..) had been competing for the Stanley Cup since 1892. The Canadiens won the largest number of Stanley Cups in the NHL since 1917. They are referred to affectionately in French and English as the "Habs". However, the last time they made the Stanley Cup Final round was over twenty years ago against the Los Angeles Kings. They ended in five games, winning the last 4-1 at home.
Chicago Black Hawks
Played at United Center, this championship game six was extremely climactic as they beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0. It is the sixth Stanley Cup of this franchises' career, with two of the wins being in the 1930's. They were one of the first teams to join the NHL in the 1926 American wave. The Chicago Blackhawks have been on fire these past few seasons, winning three Stanley Cup titles in six seasons. One might have even called call the San Francisco Giants the Blackhawks of the MLB.
One of the later Canadian teams to join the League, the Vancouver Canucks have never actually won a Stanley Cup title. The NHL franchise expanded to the United States before encouraging leagues on Canada's West Coast, leaving the Canucks to enter only in 1945. Since then they have made it to the championship game three times. This most recent loss was against the Boston Bruins 4-3, forcing their adversaries to go to the seventh game. The last game was held at Rogers Arena where the Bruins beat the Canucks 4-0.
Since its inception in 1974 this team has won ten division titles. In their first season they were baptized by fire, winning only eight games of the seventy played. Over the past forty years they have managed to get to the Stanley Cup Final once. Earlier that season they won the Eastern Conference title, giving them momentum to make a statement in the playoffs. They lost in the fourth game at the MCI Center 1-4 to the Western Conference Champion Detroit Red Wings.
Since its foundation in 1967 the Pittsburgh Penguins NHL team has won the Stanley Cup five times. Along with the Edmonton Oilers, the Penguins have won the most championship Cups outside of the Original Six teams. In their fiftieth anniversary year as a franchise, the team won the Stanley Cup (a second time in two years!) most recently against the Nashville Predators. The Penguins have appeared in the Final round in consecutive years twice before. This epic event was won four to two games and captain Sidney Crosby was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy a second year in a row.
The Jets began as the Atlanta Thrashers in the NHL season 1999-2000. They moved to Canada in the 2011-2012 season and are now based at the Bell MTS Place Arena. This team name was chosen after the original WHA/NHL team (after a poll of public support) that moved to Arizona. They also realigned the divisions to fit the new Winnipeg Jets in the Central Western Division. They've appeared in the playoffs but never managed to move on through the series.
In 1972 the team was founded as the Quebec Nordiques and a member of the World Hockey Association. By 1996 they had merged into the NHL, moved to Denver, and won a Stanley Cup Championship. They remain the only North American professional team to win a major title the season following a relocation. Later, following their Presidents' Trophy win, they beat defending champions New Jersey Devils in seven games. The last one that clinched their win was at home-ice Pepsi Center with a 3-1 score.
In the Atlantic Division and founded in 1992, the Ottawa Senators were named after an earlier team founded in Ottawa in 1883 but disbanded in 1934. The original team had won eleven (11!) Stanley Cup Championships in that time. Since this new team's inception they have won the President's Trophy, regularly make the playoffs, and won several division titles. The Ottawa Senators were defeated by the Anaheim Ducks in five games, ending 6-2 in the Ducks' Honda Center. It was their first time making it to the last round of the Stanley Cup.
Founded in 1993 by Disney as the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, the team adopted its more sober name after being sold in 2005. They also got new uniforms and replaced the duck logo with a webbed duck foot. As if to underline their newfound seriousness the Ducks won the Stanley Cup the following season against the Ottawa Senators. This Southern California team won against its Canadian counterpart in five games, with the last scoring 6-2 at their home-ice Honda Center.
New York Rangers
Founded in 1926, the New York Rangers were part of the Original Six and were the first NHL franchise to win the Stanley Cup. They are based in the famous Madison Square Garden and have taken home four Stanley Cups since their inception. Recently they just lost to the Los Angeles Kings in a Cup Championship series. The Kings beat them in five games with the last being won in second overtime at the Staples Center. During this season only one Canadian team qualified for the playoffs-- the Montreal Canadiens.
Los Angeles Kings
The team was founded in response to the 1967 NHL expansion and were based in Inglewood until the erection of a new arena in downtown Los Angeles. The first twenty years the franchise did well in regular season only to exit the playoffs prematurely. After a shuffling of divisions and change in playoff qualification, the Los Angeles Kings won the Cup against the New York Rangers in five games. In this postseason they also solidified a winning streak of 26 consecutive games.
Calgary Flames is the third professional ice hockey team to represent the capitol of Alberta. Founded in 1972, they have won a Stanley Cup title in the 1988-1989 season. Since then they made it to the final playoff round against the Tampa Bay Lightning as Western Conference champions. Tampa Bay won but the Flames pushed them to seven games, with the last lost 2-1 in St. Pete Times Forum. Back in Calgary the team's presence in the championships was celebrated by a sociocultural parade on 17th Avenue also dubbed Red Mile.
The NHL's oldest American team, the Boston Bruins was founded in 1924 and counts as an "Original Six" franchise. In that time they have won six Stanley Cup championships. The latest of these victories, and the first in almost forty years was against the Vancouver Canucks. The playoffs were split 3 games to 3 games due to home dominance. But by the seventh game the Boston Bruins managed to come out 4-0 against the Canucks even at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Based in Florida, this team was founded in 1992 and has won one Stanley Cup champion title since. Affectionately referred to as the Bolts, they made it to the championship round since their original win but were forced to contend with the Chicago Blackhawks. In that postseason they beat three of the Original Six teams in the playoffs, a feat that had not been topped since the Penguins completed it in 1992. However, they lost the final round in game six 0-2 to Chicago.
The Philadelphia Flyers were founded in 1967 and had early successes. The team made it to the Stanley Cup Final for three consecutive years, 1974, 1975 and 1976. However at this time there were only three rounds of postseason reshuffling. The Flyers typically fare better as underdogs, entering the playoffs with a inconsequential regular season record. In this year they met the Chicago Blackhawks in the Finals at Wachovia Center. They lost in overtime of game six, 3-4; the first Cup to be won in overtime since 2000.
Toronto Maple Leafs
This team was founded in 1917 as a member of the Original Six. Their name has changed three times, sticking with the Maple Leafs from 1927 forward. The team has won thirteen Stanley Cup championships, the closest rival to the Canadiens' twenty-four. However, they have not won a Stanley title in over fifty years-- the longest dry streak in the NFL. Last time they were in the Finals it was the fiftieth anniversary of the NHL, they won against the Montreal Canadiens in six games.
Based in Miami and founded in 1993, the Florida Panthers are the southernmost team in the NHL. They made it to the final round of the Stanley Cup once, facing off against the Colorado Avalanche. Neither team had existed only three seasons before. Avalanche beat the Panthers in a four game slam, winning the last game 0-1 in the third OverTime. It was also the first time in NHL history that both of the teams competing for the Cup had never appeared in the Stanley Final before.
The team was originally founded in 1972 as the Winnipeg Jets. Since then they moved to Arizona and changed names twice to become the Arizona Coyotes. Since the team's beginnings in Canada they have never made an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final round. However, they have played in the Western Conference Final as the Phoenix Coyotes, eventually being eliminated by the Los Angeles Kings. Their lack of success may be due to the team's bankruptcy and frequent change of ownership.
Detroit Red Wings
One of the Original Six, the team was founded in 1926 though they have only been called the Red Wings since 1932. They have the highest number of Stanley Cup Championships (11)of any American NHL team. From the 1983-1984 season the Red Wings have made the playoffs 30 out of 33 seasons. Their last appearance in the Stanley Cup Final was against the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was the same teams who had fought over the Cup the year before although this time the Penguins prevailed in game seven.
The Dallas Stars were founded in 1967 and originally from Minnesota. Since moving to Texas in the 1993-1994 season the Stars hold two Presidents' Trophies, eight division titles, and have won the Stanley Cup. To defend their championship title, they went against the New Jersey Devils the year following. Unfortunately the Stars lost to the Devils in double overtime in the sixth game. The loss was at their own Reunion Arena in Texas. It was the first time in over ten years that the defending Stanley champions lost in the final round.
The Oliers' franchise started in 1972 but they joined the NHL in 1979. Since then they have tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins for most championships won by any team who joined during or after the 1967 merger. In the eighties the Oilers won the Stanley Cup five out of eight seasons. However, their last visit to the finals did not result in victory. In seven games the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Edmonton Oilers 3-1 at the RBC Center in South Carolina.
New York Islanders
Founded in 1972, this team was on immediately on fire and finding ways into the playoffs within the decade. In the eighties they won four consecutive Stanley Cup Championships and due to it are recognized as an NHL dynasty. In this year they made the Cup Finals to defend their title but lost to the Edmonton Oilers in their first Stanley Cup win. Following this they didn't manage to make it to the playoffs for twenty-two consecutive seasons until 2016. Plagues of bankruptcy and mismanagement have slowed the victorious run of the club.
New Jersey Devils
Founded in Missouri in 1974, the team eventually moved to their current location at Prudential Center in 2008. They have reached the final round of Stanley Cup five times and are known rivals of the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers. In six games the Los Angeles Kings beat the New Jersey Devils taking home their first Stanley Cup in almost fifty years. The Devils lost in L.A. (with the Kings being the lowest seeded team to host the Cup) with the final score being 1-6.
The Predators joined the NHL in the 1998-1999 season as an expansion team. They are in the Central Western Conference and play at Bridgestone Arena. In the 2001-2002 season the Predators broke the 100th win baseline becoming the second fastest nineties expansion team to break that record. They've made it to the playoffs and won a few series there, most recently making it to the final round. Unfortunately they lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1; it was the first season the franchise sold out all of its home games.
Established in 1970, the Buffalo Sabres belong to the Atlantic division in the Eastern conference. Their first home arena was at Buffalo Memorial Auditorium but since has moved to KeyBank Center. The team has gotten to the last round of the Stanley Cup twice but never been able to clinch it for themselves. In the latest of these playoffs they faced the Dallas Stars and lost in triple overtime in game six. It was the longest Cup-winning game in the Final's history.
Based in St. Paul Minnesota and established in the 2000-2001 season, this club plays at the Xcel Energy Center. They replaced their former NHL team that had moved to Dallas a few years earlier. They won the Northwest division championships against the Calgary Flames, but later lost to the Colorado Avalanche. Marian Gaborik would break a franchise record scoring 42 goals and 83 points in the 2008 season. However, the Minnesota Wild have never advanced to a Stanley Cup Final.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Established in Ohio for the 2000-2001 season, the Columbus Blue Jackets were this state's third ice hockey franchise. They were situated in the Central Division of the Western Conference but would later (2013) be realigned in the Eastern Metropolitan Division. The Blue Jackets started off slow, finishing second to last in their second season with only 57 points. The 2002-2003 season was slightly better but ultimately disappointed as well. They made the playoffs multiple times but were never able to effectively advance in the series.
Established in 1967, the St.Louis Blues are the oldest team to have never won a Stanley Cup. They were one of the six teams to be added in this NHL expansion period, and play at the Scottrade Center in downtown St.Louis. They made it to the playoffs early, and were even challengers for the Stanley Cup against the Boston Bruins. However the Bruins won in only four games, leaving St. Louis devastated. This was the first time an American team won the Cup since 1961.
Based in the Metropolitan Division, this club was founded in New England in 1972. As the Hartford Whalers they had been part of the World Hockey Association and merged with the NHL in the late seventies. By 1997 they had moved down to North Carolina and made the playoffs by the 2000-2001 season. Since then they've made several appearances in postseason and competed for the Stanley Cup against the Edmonton Oilers. In seven games the Hurricanes prevailed and beat the Oilers 1-3 in the last game.
BONUS! Who was the first person to win the Hart Trophy?
The Hart Trophy was donated to the National Hockey League by David Hart, father of a longtime head coach of the Montreal Canadiens. Gifted first in 1924, the Trophy is given to the player deemed most valuable to his team during the 82 regular games of the normal season. Things taken into account include but are not exclusive to team success, corsi, and goals. This first recipient was a center for the Ottawa Senators. Almost every player who has received the Hart Trophy has also been commemorated in the Hall of Fame.
BONUS! Why was the Stanley Cup cancelled in 1919?
The Stanley Cup was not yet under the exclusive control of the National Hockey League. Instead the Cup, created as an award by the Governor General Lord Stanley, was originally intended for the best Canadian team. However, by 1915 teams began to organize something bigger than straight-forward challengers for the Cup. Leagues began allowing professionals and divisions began forming like the Canadian Hockey Association, the National Hockey Association, and finally the National Hockey League. However shortly after this take-over the series for the Stanley Cup was cancelled. What happened?
BONUS! Who was the first American team to win the Stanley Cup?
Once these professional leagues were getting together, American teams were being admitted in the quest for the Stanley Cup. West-Coast American teams began to join the Pacific Coast Hockey Association and compete. This was in 1914. By the 1916-1917 season Americans had won a the Cup specifically created for Canadian sportsmanship in 1892. However, the sport (first imagined and practiced in Eastern Canada) gained popularity in the United States and Canadians found themselves sharing their leagues. In 1917 this American West Coast team beat the Montreal Canadians for the Cup.
BONUS! Who was the first woman to have her name inscribed on the Stanley Cup?
An American Ice Hockey executive, this woman was the first to have her name engraved on the Stanley Cup alongside her team. As president of the Detroit Red Wings she was the first female executive in the National Hockey League and was the club's president from 1952 to 1955. In three of four seasons during that period the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup. The massive trophy includes names of winning players, coaches, management and club staff engraved to solidify in memory who contributed to each win.
BONUS! Name the team that will enter the NHL this season (2017-2018)
This team is scheduled to play in the 2017-2018 season as a member of the Pacific Division in the Western Conference. Rumours in 2014 circulated through this metropolitan area about them founding or buying their own team. There was talk of the Sacramento King's establishment moving to this city. The draft for their team was held at their future ice-home, the T-Mobile Arena. NHL Awards and games have already been hosted in this city. The head coach Gerard Gallant has already been chosen.