Singing the Blues no more
Let the record show St. Louis’ Stanley Cup drought ended at 2241 Eastern Daylight Time, 12 June 2019.
That’s when the final siren went off in Boston’s TD Garden, ending the Blues’ 4-1 victory over the Bruins in game seven of this year’s Stanley Cup Final.
The Blues, the team which lost 12 consecutive Stanley Cup Finals games without a win in their first three seasons of existence, then waited 49 years to get back to the finals, took the Cup back to Missouri, where it arrived very early this morning at Lambert Airport.
This puts three NHL teams on the clock.
The Canucks and Sabres, two teams which came into the NHL three years after the Blues, Penguins, Flyers, Kings, North Stars (now the Dallas Stars) and Seals (ceased to exist after merging with the North Stars in 1978), now have gone the longest without winning a Stanley Cup.
Vancouver and Buffalo have been to the finals a combined five times. The Sabres lost in 1975 to the Flyers and ’99 to Dallas, while the Canucks fell in 1982 to the Islanders, ’94 to the Rangers and 2011 to the Bruins. Only the 2011 Canucks were within one win of the Cup, but they lost twice to the Bruins, game six in Boston and game seven in Vancouver, the latter sparking disgusting riots throughout British Columbia.
The other team on the clock is the Maple Leafs.
Toronto has won 13 Cups, second to Montreal’s 24, but the Leafs haven’t hoisted the 16-kilogram (35-pound) silver trophy since 1967, the last year of the “Original Six”. The Maple Leafs haven’t even reached the finals since 1967, losing in the semifinals on numerous occasions.
The Leafs’ futility is a running joke in the NHL, especially in Montreal, Boston, Ottawa and Buffalo, four cities which would root for a team captained by Donald Trump over the Leafs. Toronto hasn’t won a Cup since Lester Pearson was Canada’s Prime Minister, yet the Leafs are the NHL’s most valuable franchise, have some of the highest, if not the highest, ticket prices in North American professional sports, and have a season ticket waiting list rivaled by only the Packers and Redskins.
Toronto isn’t going to win a Cup until it gets rid of Mitch Marner and/or William Nylander for help on the blue line and a competent backup goaltender.
The Leafs’ defense is putrid. It stinks. Yet the Leafs went out and threw a crapload of money at John Tavares last year. Tavares is great, but how many scorers does a team need? This isn’t 1984 when the Oilers were winning games 10-3 and 12-5 on many nights. It isn’t 1998 when 1-0 games were as common as a cold, but the days of teams scoring 400 goals a year are long gone.
Fredrik Andersen isn’t that good to begin with, and he certainly can’t carry a team on his shoulders the way Patrick Roy, Martin Broedeur and Grant Fuht could in their heyday. The Leafs haven’t had one since Terry Sawchuk.
I can’t see Toronto doing a damn thing until the two things I mentioned above happened. Until then, it will be one and done in the playoffs for the next couple of years.
Vancouver and Buffalo? Please. They’re even more hopeless than the Leafs. If either makes the playoffs before 2022, I will be truly surprised.
Boston’s window may have slammed shut. Tukka Rask, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Zdeno Chara are near the end of the line.
As long as Tampa Bay, Nashville, Carolina, Florida, Arizona, Vegas, Dallas and Anaheim don’t get their grubby paws on the Cup, it won’t be too bad.
The NHL needs to seriously realign when Seattle comes on board. The NFL model of eight divisions of four might work. This would be my setup:
–Seattle, Vancouver, San Jose, Colorado
–Anaheim, Arizona, Los Angeles, Vegas
—Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Minnesota
–Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, Detroit
–Nashville, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Florida
–Washington, Philadelphia, Rangers, Islanders
–Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Columbus, New Jersey
–Boston, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto
Dividing the three New York City teams seems like blasphemy, but the Devils haven’t been in New York as long as the other two. And the Devils make more sense in a division with three other American teams. Toronto makes sense with Boston and Montreal, since the three have been rivals since the beginning of the NHL.
Detroit and Chicago should be in the same division. It’s silly they aren’t. I understand the Red Wings’ fear of playing more west coast games, but why they aren’t playing their oldest rival more often is silly.
The Flames and Oilers have been begging for more games vs. the Jets. The two Alberta teams would love Vancouver in their division, but the Canucks and the new team in Seattle not together doesn’t make sense. The only other way to slice it would be to put Seattle in with the Canucks, Flames and Oilers, then move a few other pieces around on the board.
The four southernmost teams deserve one another. Washington needs to be in a division with northeastern teams, not ones far south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
If the NHL wants four divisions of eight, here’s what I’d like to see:
–Vancouver, Seattle, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Colorado, Minnesota, St. Louis
–San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Arizona, Vegas, Dallas, Nashville, Columbus
–Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Florida, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Washington
–Boston, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Islanders, Rangers
That’s enough hockey for now.