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the professorDynasties

When does a team qualify? It is up to your interpretation. Usually, when a team wins three or more Stanley Cups in succession, it has a dynasty. In today’s era of free agency, those teams are few and far between. As a result, your criteria might have to be less strict.

In the 1960s: The Toronto Maple Leafs, under the direction of legendary coach G. “Punch” Imlach, set the standard. They won three consecutive titles (1962-64) and four in seven years, the last coming in 1967. The Maple Leafs haven’t won a championship since.

photo
AP
Edmonton Oilers' Wayne Gretzky holds the Stanley Cup over his head after his team's 1988 victory over the Boston Bruins. Teammate Mark Messier is at left.
In the 1970s: The Montreal Canadians, under the direction of the league’s winningest coach, Scotty Bowman, were the standard. The Habs won four consecutive Cups (1976-79). They also won one in 1973. No other team won more than two.

In the 1980s: The New York Islanders and Edmonton Oilers were industry standards. The Islanders, loaded with stars such as Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin and Billy Smith, won four consecutive titles (1980-83) and were a finalist in 1984. Of course, they lost that ’84 series to the Oilers, powered by Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Grant Fuhr and Paul Coffey. Edmonton won four Cups in five years (1984-85, 87-88). The Oilers even added another in 1990 to conclude the run. That final title was even more impressive, seeing as though they won it without Gretzky, who had moved on to the Los Angeles Kings.

In the 1990s: This is when the impact of free agency set in. Two teams won consecutive Cups, but no one came close to a third straight. The Pittsburgh Penguins opened the decade with back-to-back titles (1991-92), but Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and Tom Barrasso never could make it back to the final. In 1997-98, the Detroit Red Wings, with Bowman at the helm, won Cups with consecutive sweeps of the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals, respectively.

In the 2000s: The Flames or Lightning will soon supplant the New Jersey Devils, the closest thing to a dynasty in this decade. There have been five championship series so far, including this year’s. The Devils, led by Scott Stevens and Martin Brodeur, played in three (2000, 2001, 2003) and won two (2000, 2003).

What lies ahead: There might be no better possibility for a dynasty than the Lightning. It built from within. It has a young nucleus. It has a two-time coach of the year finalist in John Tortorella and a general manager in Jay Feaster who is not afraid to pull the trade trigger late in the season to improve its chances.

– Compiled by Tim Sullivan

 
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