Blackhawks overdue, but not by much

One of the unintended consequences of the rapid expansion that’s taken place in major US sports (baseball, football, basketball and hockey) over the past few decades is that with so many more teams, the odds of a club winning a championship have diminished dramatically.

Take the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks and the Philadelphia Flyers play game one of the Stanley Cup Finals Saturday. Should the Blackhawks prevail, it will be their first title since 1961. That team included such notables as Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Glenn Hall, Pierre Pilote and Reg Fleming, among others.

The Flyers aren’t a whole lot better, not having won the Cup since 1975.

But with 30 teams in the National Hockey League nowadays, going 35 years between Stanley Cup titles, as the Flyers have done, isn’t that much of an anomaly.

Statistically speaking, an NHL franchise should win a championship, on average, once every, oh, 30 years, right?

Unfortunately for Blackhawks fans, and fans of teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs (last title in 1967), Los Angeles Kings (no titles since the club started up in 1967), ; St. Louis Blues (founded in 1967 – no titles); Vancouver Canucks (founded in 1970 – no titles); Buffalo Sabres (founded in 1970 – no titles); and Washington Capitals (founded in 1974 – no titles), championship rarely average out in a nice even manner. 

Over the past 50 years, the Montreal Canadiens have won 13 Stanley Cups, the Edmonton Oilers five, the Detroit Red Wings four, the New York Islanders four, the Maple Leafs four (the last, of course, in 1967) New Jersey Devils three and the Pittsburgh Penguins three. That’s 36 of 49 championships (73.5 percent) spread among just seven teams since 1960.

Even the Flyers, who have gone 35 years without a Cup, could be said to be overachievers in terms of championships, since they’ve won two Cups since they began in 1967, an average of one every 21 seasons.

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