Blackhawks Are Great, But Not a Dynasty

By HOWARD BERGER

TORONTO (June 16) — After winning their third Stanley Cup title in six seasons on Monday — and first at the United Center — the Chicago Blackhawks, I’m quite certain, could not care less whether others consider them a dynasty. My opinion, therefore, is similarly meaningless.

But, I’ll offer it anyway.

What the Blackhawks can lay claim to — unequivocally — is being the best National Hockey League team in the complex salary cap era, which began in 2005–06. For the second time after winning a championship, the Hawks will need to execute a partial tear–down in order to maintain their triangular nucleus of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Duncan Keith. As he did after the first Chicago Cup win in 2010, when such players as Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd and Kris Versteeg were unloaded, general manager Stan Bowman will probably find a way to keep his team competitive once again. But, the Hawks won’t likely win a third Stanley Cup in four seasons next spring.

And, that — in my view — is what separates an efficient, perpetually–evolving hockey club from a dynasty. Chicago is unquestionably the former. To be the latter, a team has to win consecutive championships and three Stanley Cups in four years. Mistakenly, I chose Los Angeles to be that first–such entity in the salary cap era by prevailing again this season (over Boston). Neither the Kings nor Bruins made the playoffs. Which indicated either my own nearsightedness or how demanding it is to assemble an authentic dynasty in the current NHL. Perhaps both.

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NHL COMMISSIONER GARY BETTMAN PRESENTS THE STANLEY CUP TO CHICAGO CAPTAIN JONATHAN TOEWS MONDAY AT THE UNITED CENTER. BRUCE BENNETT GETTY IMAGES/NHL.COM

The last team to win consecutive championships was the Detroit Red Wings of 1997 and 1998. By winning again in 2002, Detroit was also the last — before Chicago — to raise the Cup three times in six years. Neither can be considered a dynasty. For that, we have to go back to the Edmonton Oilers, who won four Stanley Cups in five seasons with Wayne Gretzky (1984–85–87–88) and then a surprise fifth (without Gretzky) in 1990. Edmonton twice won the Stanley Cup consecutively and captured five titles in seven attempts. Dynastic by any measure. And in any sport.

HALF A YEAR: Hey, Toronto Maple Leafs fans, it ended six months ago tonight. That remarkable and illusory 10–1–1 spurt in 12 games beginning Nov. 20 that vaulted the club atop the NHL in goals scored and to within three points of first place in the Eastern Conference. As it rather emphatically turned out, a 6–2 pounding of the very good Anaheim Ducks at Air Canada Centre on Dec. 16 was the last gasp for the 2014–15 Maple Leafs. Two nights later came a road loss to the very bad Carolina Hurricanes and within two weeks, the Leafs would embark on perhaps the most futile, demoralizing month in franchise history.

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MY PHOTO FROM SEC. 307 AT THE AIR CANADA CENTRE SIX MONTHS AGO TONIGHT — TUESDAY, DEC. 16 — AS THE MAPLE LEAFS AND ANAHEIM DUCKS STAND FOR O CANADA.

A ghastly 1–11–1 mark in January spelled the end for both incumbent coach Randy Carlyle (fired Jan. 6) and his replacement, Peter Horachek (dumped Apr. 12, a day after the regular season). The lone victory of the month occurred on a Friday night (Jan. 9) at home to Columbus. The Leafs then went to Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose and St. Louis; lost all four games in regulation and scored one goal (Roman Polak at the Honda Center). Next up was the NHL draft lottery. But, Maple Leaf fans were hardly complaining on this Tuesday night — six long months ago.

NHL MEDIA GUIDES — PART 5

Next up in my collection–series of National Hockey League media guides from the past 50 years — Los Angeles Kings and Washington Capitals:

LOS ANGELES KINGS

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LOS ANGELES JOINED THE NHL AS PART OF THE “GREAT EXPANSION” IN 1967–68, WITH THE CALIFORNIA SEALS, MINNESOTA NORTH STARS, PHILADELPHIA FLYERS, PITTSBURGH PENGUINS AND ST. LOUIS BLUES. LEGENDARY GOALIE TERRY SAWCHUK WAS SMACK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE KINGS INAUGURAL “PRESS BOOK” AFTER BEING CHOSEN FROM TORONTO IN THE ’67 EXPANSION DRAFT. SAWCHUK HAD JUST FINISHED BACK–STOPPING THE MAPLE LEAFS TO A SURPRISE STANLEY CUP TITLE OVER HEAVILY–FAVORED MONTREAL.

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ED JOYAL (16) AND BILL FLETT (17) WERE THE BIG SHOOTERS IN THE KINGS EARLY YEARS AND DEPICTED ON THE CLUB’S SECOND MEDIA GUIDE (TOP–LEFT). THE THIRD KINGS GUIDE — IN 1969–70 — FEATURED AN ACTION PHOTO FROM THE LOS ANGELES FORUM OF GOALIE GERRY DESJARDINS RACING OUT OF THE NET TO BEAT MONTREAL’S HENRI RICHARD (16) TO THE PUCK. DESJARDINS WAS AMONG THE NHL’s TOP ROOKIES IN 1968–69.

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AFTER HIS IMMENSE ROLE IN HELPING THE MAPLE LEAFS WIN FOUR STANLEY CUPS BETWEEN 1962 AND 1967, BOB PULFORD BEGAN A LONG ASSOCIATION WITH THE KINGS AS A PLAYER IN 1970–71 (HE WAS TRADED TO L.A. FOR FORWARD GARRY MONAHAN). PULFORD WAS ON THE COVER (TOP–LEFT) OF THE KINGS 1971–72 MEDIA GUIDE. IN 1972–73, IT WAS ROBERT (BUTCH) GORING IN HIS GOLD KINGS UNIFORM AND LIFE–LONG HELMET. THE GREATEST MOMENTS OF GORING’S CAREER WOULD BEGIN NEARLY A DECADE LATER WITH THE NEW YORK ISLANDERS. BUT, HE HAD MANY FINE SEASONS IN LOS ANGELES FROM 1969 TO 1980.

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BOB PULFORD RETIRED TO BECOME COACH OF THE KINGS (TOP–LEFT) AND LED THE CLUB TO A 105–POINT SEASON IN 1974–75. BUT, HIS OLD TEAM — THE LEAFS — ELIMINATED L.A. IN A BEST–OF–THREE PRELIMINARY PLAYOFF. STILL, HE WON THE JACK ADAMS AWARD AS NHL COACH–OF–THE–YEAR IN THE SAME SEASON MARCEL DIONNE JOINED THE KINGS FROM DETROIT. THE 1976–77 MEDIA GUIDE (TOP–RIGHT) FEATURED ARTWORK FROM BUTCH GORING’S BEST MOMENT WITH THE KINGS. TO THE CHAGRIN OF BOSTON COACH DON CHERRY, GORING NETTED AN OVERTIME GOAL IN GAME 6 OF THE 1976 QUARTERFINALS AT THE FORUM. CHERRY AND THE BRUINS REBOUNDED TO WIN THE SERIES AT HOME IN GAME 7.

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THE NHL’s MOST PROLIFIC SCORING UNIT WAS PROUDLY DISPLAYED BY THE KINGS MEDIA GUIDE IN THE FIRST YEAR OF THE 1980’s. DIONNE, SIMMER AND TAYLOR COMBINED FOR AN ASTONISHING 146 GOALS, 182 ASSISTS AND 328 POINTS IN THE 1979–80 SEASON.

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LOOK AT THE BIG IRISHMAN ON THE COVER OF THE 1984–85 KINGS GUIDE (TOP–LEFT). CIGAR–CHOMPING PAT QUINN WAS L.A.’s COACH AND HE JOINED FELLOW CIGAR–MASHER ROGIE VACHON (THE GM, TO THE RIGHT) ON CHAIRS OUTSIDE THE FORUM. MUCH SIMPLER WAS THE DESIGN ON THE 20th–ANNIVERSARY LOS ANGELES MEDIA GUIDE IN ’86–87.

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THE WAYNE GRETZKY ERA IN LOS ANGELES BEGAN ON AUG. 9, 1988 WITH A MIND–NUMBING TRADE FROM EDMONTON. FOR THE GREAT ONE’S ARRIVAL, THE KINGS COMPLETELY REDESIGNED THEIR UNIFORMS — SWITCHING FROM PURPLE AND GOLD TO BLACK AND SILVER. NO. 99 APPEARED ON THE COVER OF THE 1988–89 MEDIA GUIDE WITH HIGH–SCORING WINGER LUC ROBITAILLE (WEARING BLACK). BOTH ARE NOW IN THE HALL OF FAME.

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FANS OF THE TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS WILL CRINGE UPON LOOKING AT THESE TWO BOOKS. IT WAS THE GM–COACH TANDEM OF NICK BEVERLEY AND BARRY MELROSE THAT GUIDED THE KINGS PAST TORONTO IN THE 1993 STANLEY CUP SEMIFINALS — A STARK REMINDER OF WHICH APPEARED ON THE COVER OF THE ’93–94 GUIDE (TOP–RIGHT). THE PHOTO OF WAYNE GRETZKY AND OWNER BRUCE McNALL WITH THE CLARENCE CAMPBELL BOWL WAS TAKEN IN THE VISITORS’ DRESSING ROOM AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS AFTER GAME 7 (MAY 29, 1993). BEVERLEY WOULD LATER COACH THE LEAFS, REPLACING PAT BURNS IN MARCH 1996.

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GRETZKY’S HELMET ADORNED THE COVER OF THE 1995–96 KINGS GUIDE FOR HIS FINAL SEASON IN L.A. NO. 99 WAS TRADED TO THE ST. LOUIS BLUES ON FEB. 27, 1996. AFTER 32 YEARS AT THE FORUM IN SUBURBAN INGLEWOOD, THE KINGS MOVED DOWNTOWN TO THEIR CURRENT ARENA — STAPLES CENTER — AND IT WAS FEATURED ON THE 1999–2000 GUIDE.

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MY MOST RECENT L.A. MEDIA GUIDES (2006–07 AND 2007–08). DUSTIN BROWN — PICTURED IN MIDDLE OF THE LATTER BOOK (TOP–RIGHT) — WOULD BECOME CAPTAIN OF THE KINGS AND HELP LEAD THE CLUB TO STANLEY CUP VICTORIES IN 2012 AND 2014.

WASHINGTON CAPITALS

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THE EXPANSION CAPITALS OF 1974–75 REMAIN, UNARGUABLY, THE WORST TEAM IN THE HISTORY OF THE NHL. WITH A RECORD OF 8–67–5 FOR 21 POINTS, THE CLUB YIELDED A NEVER–TO–BE–MATCHED TOTAL OF 446 GOALS, OR 5.58 PER GAME. WASHINGTON’S ROAD RECORD WAS 1–39–0 — A LATE–SEASON TRIUMPH IN OAKLAND OVER THE CALIFORNIA SEALS PREVENTING A CLEAN SWEEP. THE CAPS JOINED THE NHL WITH THE KANSAS CITY SCOUTS.

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YEARS 2 AND 3 IN WASHINGTON COULD NOT HAVE BEEN WORSE, BUT NEITHER WERE THEY APPRECIABLY BETTER (COMBINED RECORD OF 35–101–24). POOR RON LOW WAS ON THE COVER OF THE 1975–76 GUIDE (TOP–LEFT). HE HANDLED MORE RUBBER THAN THE GOODYEAR TIRE COMPANY. GRAND FALLS, NFLD. NATIVE TONY WHITE MADE THE ’76–77 COVER AFTER LEADING THE CAPITALS WITH 25 GOALS IN THEIR SECOND SEASON.

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BY THE TURN OF THE DECADE, THE CAPITALS WERE ON THEIR WAY TO RESPECTABILITY FOR THE FIRST TIME. BUT, RYAN WALTER WOULD NOT BE IN D.C. FOR MUCH LONGER.

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STILL THE GREATEST TRADE IN FRANCHISE HISTORY: WASHINGTON OBTAINING DEFENCEMEN ROD LANGWAY, BRIAN ENGBLOM AND FORWARDS DOUG JARVIS AND CRAIG LAUGHLIN FROM MONTREAL FOR RYAN WALTER AND RICK GREEN ON SEP. 9, 1982. LANGWAY (ON BOTH MEDIA GUIDE COVERS, ABOVE) WON THE NORRIS TROPHY AS THE NHL’s TOP BLUE–LINER IN 1983 AND 1984. IN 1982–83, ON THE HEELS OF THE TRADE, WASHINGTON IMPROVED BY 29 POINTS IN THE STANDINGS (65–94) AND MADE THE PLAYOFFS FOR THE FIRST TIME.

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THE CAPITALS COMPILED 46 WINS AND 101 POINTS IN 1984–85, LARGELY AS A RESULT OF 103 GOALS FROM MIKE GARTNER (50) AND BOBBY CARPENTER (53). GARTNER IS ONE OF ONLY SEVEN NHL PLAYERS TO SCORE 700 GOALS. HE STANDS SIXTH OVERALL WITH 708 — BEHIND WAYNE GRETZKY, GORDIE HOWE, BRETT HULL, MARCEL DIONNE AND PHIL ESPOSITO AND AHEAD OF JAROMIR JAGR. MIKE WAS INDUCTED INTO THE HOCKEY HALL OF FAME IN 2001.

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HIGH–SCORING DEFENCEMAN KEVIN HATCHER WAS THE CENTRAL FIGURE ON THE CAPITALS 20th–ANNIVERSARY YEARBOOK, WITH 16 PREVIOUS MEDIA GUIDES SURROUNDING HIM. HATCHER HAD 24 GOALS AND 74 POINTS FOR WASHINGTON IN 1990–91. HIS YOUNGER BROTHER, DERIAN, PLAYED FOR THE STANLEY CUP–CHAMPION DALLAS STARS IN 1999.

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FOR THEIR 22nd SEASON — IN 1995–96 — THE CAPITALS REDESIGNED THEIR UNIFORM, LOGO AND COLORS, SWITCHING FROM RED, BLUE AND WHITE TO MEDIUM–BLUE, GOLD AND WHITE. THE NEW LOGO WAS A STYLIZED AMERICAN EAGLE. ON THE ’95–96 GUIDE (TOP–LEFT), COACH JIM SCHOENFELD WAS FLANKED BY PETR BONDRA AND GOALIE JIM CAREY, WHO WOULD WIN THE VEZINA TROPHY THAT SEASON WITH A 2.26 AVERAGE IN 71 APPEARANCES.

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ON THEIR 25th ANNIVERSARY MEDIA GUIDE, THE CAPITALS WERE ABLE TO CELEBRATE AN APPEARANCE (THEIR ONLY, TO DATE) IN THE STANLEY CUP FINAL. COACHED BY RON WILSON, THE CLUB WAS SWEPT BY DETROIT IN 1998. PICTURED AMONG WASHINGTON LANDMARKS WAS THE PRINCE OF WALES TROPHY FOR WINNING THE EASTERN CONFERENCE TITLE.

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GOALIE OLAF KOLZIG WAS ON THE BUSY COVER OF THE CAPITALS 2000–01 MEDIA GUIDE (TOP–LEFT). LESS CLUTTERED, WAS THE 30th–ANNIVERSARY COVER IN 2003–04.

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MY TWO MOST RECENT WASHINGTON GUIDES COINCIDED WITH ALEX OVECHKIN’S ROOKIE NHL SEASON AND A COVER PHOTO IN 2006–07 AS THE REIGNING CALDER TROPHY WINNER.

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