7 NHL Franchises Try To Break 30+ Year Stanley Cup Droughts In 2014

For seven NHL franchises it’s been a long wait to win the Stanley Cup. The Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders have suffered through thirty or more years without reclaiming the most notorious trophy in professional sports. The St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks have never reached the pinnacle. A Cup win would represent the first championship title in franchise history for the latter four clubs.

The 30 Or More Club: NHL Stanley Cup Droughts

The Philadelphia Flyers Always Compete But Never Complete

Philadelphia Flyers 1974 Stanley Cup

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

The Flyers franchise had a tremendous beginning. In 1974 they became the first non Original 6 team to win the Stanley Cup, and in 1975 they repeated as champs. The organization can proudly lay claim to two Stanley Cup titles, however, since the early successes it’s been a long journey of getting close, but not close enough.

The Philadelphia Flyers have played in the Stanley Cup Finals four times over the last thirty years. Appearances in 1985, 1987, 1997 and 2010 are something to be proud of. Of the seven Cup drought organizations, the Flyers have certainly been the closest and most regularly competitive.

Last season the Flyers missed the playoffs for only the second time since 1994-95. There is no telling whether they’ll make the playoffs this season or miss for two straight years, however, they are definitely in the mix for a spot in the 2014 post season. The Orange & Black haven’t missed the playoffs two straight seasons since 93′ and 94.’

The Philadelphia Flyers current Cup drought stands at 37 years.

The Toronto Maple Leafs Stanley Cup Drought Lingers Since 1967

Toronto Maple Leafs Stanley Cup Team 67'

Image Courtesy of Flickr. Photograph by Adrian Berg.

The 60’s were a dominant decade for the Blue & White. Between the years of 1962 and 1967 the Leafs won 4 Stanley Cup titles. Unfortunately for the Leafs and their fans, they’ve failed to reach the Stanley Cup Finals ever since.

Over the last 30 years, the closest the Leafs have come to playing in the final round was in 1993, when they held a 3-2 series lead over the Los Angeles Kings in the Conference Finals. The Kings stormed back to win games’ 6 and 7, led by Wayne Gretzky. The series will forever be remembered for a controversial non-call by retired NHL referee Kerry Fraser.

Had the Leafs held on and won the series, they would have played the Montreal Canadiens in the Cup finals. The Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs are the two most winningest franchises in NHL history. However, unlike the Habs, the Leafs have struggled to earn a championship since 1967 NHL expansion.

The Toronto Maple Leafs made the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2013, breaking a nine year post season drought. They appear to be a team on the rise. Although not considered a heavy favourite to win a championship, the Buds are the closest they’ve been in a long time.

The Toronto Maple Leafs current Cup drought stands at 45 years.

The 30 Year Drought Is New To The New York Islanders

The New York Islanders joined the league in 1972, and much like the Flyers, they had some very joyous early success at Cup winning. In 1980, only eight years into franchise life, the Isles won their first Stanley Cup. They won three more in concession for a total of four Cups in as many years from 80′ to 1983.

The year 2013 marked the official beginning of the 30 year drought for the New York Islanders. However, it also marked their return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, coupled with a Hart finalist consideration for youthful franchise player John Tavares. It’s been a while for the Islanders, but the positive sign is – this is by far the most promising, on-the-rise team they’ve put together since the mid 70’s.

The New York Islanders current Cup drought stands at 30 years.

The St. Louis Blues Are The Favourite To Break The 30+ Year Stanley Cup Drought In 2014

St. Louis Blues, Bobby Orr, Stanley Cup Finals

Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

The St. Louis Blues joined the NHL in 1967. They were part of the first wave of expansion which saw 6 new teams enter a league consisting of the Original 6 franchises.

In what seems like a Stanley Cup giveaway when looking back, the NHL decided to keep the Original 6 in one conference and place the new expansion franchises in a new conference.The Blues were the best of the worst, allowing them a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in their first three seasons of existence from 1968 to 1970. They were swept in all three Finals appearances. In 68′ and 69′ the Montreal Canadiens did them in with ease, and in 1970 the Bruins ousted the Blues in Game 4 overtime scoring one of hockey’s most memorable goals, by a flying Bobby Orr.

The Blues enter the 2013-14 NHL season as one of the heavy favourites to win the Stanley Cup. Most oddsmakers have the Blues sitting anywhere from 3rd to 5th, placing them in some elite company with the NHL’s most recent winning franchises. On paper, and based on recent performances, there is no question that the St. Louis Blues have a legitimate chance to break the franchise drought in 2014.

The St. Louis Blues current Cup drought stands at 45 years.

No Cups Yet For The Washington Capitals

Since joining the National Hockey League in 1974 the Washington Capitals have not won a Stanley Cup. The franchises’ only appearance in the finals came in 1998, against the Detroit Red Wings. The Caps failed to win a single contest in the 98′ Final, and have since been unable to advance past the 2nd round of the playoffs.

The Caps have been solid of late, enjoying a six year post season appearance run that ranks 4th longest in the NHL among active streaks. They have won a division title in 5 of the last 6 seasons and earned a President’s Trophy, as well.

Last season, the Caps won their division once again only to bow out in Round 1 to the New York Rangers. Still considered one of the NHL’s more quality clubs, the Caps should make the playoffs in 2013-14, allowing them the opportunity to once again land the franchise its first Stanley Cup championship.

The Washington Capitals current Cup drought stands at 38 years.

The Buffalo Sabres’s Stanley Cup Drought Will Likely Not End In 2014

This season marks the 43rd in Buffalo Sabres history. Forty-three seasons and still no Cups makes the Sabres’ drought one of the longest in the NHL at the moment. Buffalo have reached the finals twice in their existence, including a controversial loss to the Dallas Stars in 1999. The Sabres were defeated in Game 6 of the 99′ Stanley Cup Final on a foot-in-the-crease goal by Stars’ forward Brett Hull.

The Sabres are a rebuilding NHL franchise possessing an abundance of young talent within their system. Most pre season speculations place the Sabres outside of the playoff picture come season’s end, however, anything is possible.

The Sabres have one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, plus they begin the year with a new head coach. Last season the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens began the regular season as obvious choices to miss the post season and both proved everyone wrong with new head coaches leading the charge. Anything can happen in the NHL – every team is competitive under the right circumstances.

The Buffalo Sabres current Cup drought stands at 43 years.

So Close, Yet Still No Cups For The Vancouver Canucks

Established in 1970, the Vancouver Canucks entered the National Hockey League as a sister expansion team to the Buffalo Sabres at the beginning of the 1970-71 season. No Cup finals were enjoyed throughout the franchises’ infancy years in the 1970’s, however, since then, the Canucks have had opportunities to break the Stanley Cup drought.

In 1982, the dark horse Vancouver Canucks made it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals, losing in four straight to the mighty New York Islanders.

In 1994, the Canucks were at the dance again, and once again it was a New York team that crushed their hopes. The 94′ final was close. The Rangers took the series in 7 games, winning the clincher by 1 goal at Madison Square Garden.

Finally, in 2011 the Vancouver Canucks made a 3rd Stanley Cup finals appearance, this time just failing to earn a championship in a 7 game series loss to the Boston Bruins.

The Canucks have made the playoffs in 5 straight seasons and showed some promise. However, their last two playoff outings were quickly dispelled in the 1st round, losing in 5 games to the Los Angeles Kings in 2012, and in 4 games at the hands of the San Jose Sharks in 2013.

This season the Canucks are considered to have an outside, yet somewhat realistic chance to win the Cup. They have a lot of strong pieces in place on a veteran lineup that’s been to the Finals and knows what it takes. Perhaps the two straight playoff failures have allowed the Canucks enough time to recuperate and finally take another stab at hockey’s greatest prize.

The Chicago Blackhawks failed to move past the 1st round in two consecutive years after winning the Cup in 2010. The Canucks never won in 2011, but they may similarly be ready to go on a deep playoff drive again, after two straight first round exits.

The Vancouver Canucks current Cup drought stands at 43 years.

An Omen Of Good Faith For Hopeful Breakers Of The Painful Stanley Cup Drought

The last three franchises to win the Stanley Cup have all broken droughts of more than thirty years. In 2010 the Chicago Blackhawks Cup victory represented the end of a 48 year span with no Cup wins. The following year, in 2011, the Boston Bruins captured their first Stanley Cup championship in 38 years. In 2012, the Los Angeles Kings reigned supreme, finally closing out a Stanley Cup drought of 43 years with no championship title.