With 16 teams competing in the NHL playoffs (I guess actually five with Los Angeles’ early ouster), there are plenty of reasons to be envious of other teams right now. And no doubt, the Canes fun meter continues to hover near all-time lows with nine consecutive playoff misses that represent the longest streak in the NHL right now. And certainly there are teams with multiple recent Cup wins whose fan bases are in a better place right now.
But when one looks objectively at the lot of the other 30 teams in the NHL, how many would a Canes fan rightfully trade places with right now when looking at an extended history that reaches back behind the Hurricanes current down times? I do not think it as close to 30 teams as some might think.
For every Pittsburgh Penguins there are a couple teams who have had it as bad or worse than the Carolina Hurricanes.
Columbus Blue Jackets
No doubt, the Blue Jackets are in a better place right now with a 2-1 lead in their series with the Washington Capitals. But that franchise has truly had a tough go of it in terms of post-season success. In 18 years of existence, the team has yet to win a playoff series. The team has played in only four series counting their current one, and with their loss at home on Tuesday night, fans through the years have seen only two home playoff wins in eight tries. One could debate whether the Blue Jackets’ future looks better than the Hurricanes right now, but there is no way I would swap a Stanley Cup Finals appearance, a Stanley Cup championship, another deep playoff run in 2009 and the nine playoff series wins that go with it for a life as a Blue Jackets fan.
With a history (in Arizona) that is one year longer than the Hurricanes’ history, the Arizona Coyotes have much less to show for it. The Coyotes win on volume of playoff appearances with seven but only advanced past the first round once when they advanced to the Conference Finals in 2012. The two series wins that season still leave the franchise with a 2-7 series record and still waiting for a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Coyotes are also a team that can easily rival the Hurricanes for suffering related to financial issues, ownership woes and rumors of moving with their long run of financial issues. No way would anyone in their right mind swap a history as a Canes fan for time with the desert dogs.
New York Islanders
If one reaches back to their dynasty years in the early 1980s, the comparison changes, but if one limits the discussion to when the Hurricanes moved to North Carolina and/or just picks a fan younger than 50 years old, the Hurricanes history stacks up favorably. Somewhat like the Coyotes, the Islanders beat the Hurricanes on sheer playoff appearance volume with seven playoff berths since the 1997-98 season. But in that time frame, the Islanders have mustered only a single series win which makes for an abysmal 1-7 record in terms of series wins. Couple the lack of success with management woes, a couple of the worst contracts in NHL history (Di Pietro and Satan) and the unsuccessful move to Brooklyn and current limbo state of the team, there is no way I would swap my Hurricanes woes for the Islanders’ recent history.
The Buffalo Sabres were a good team in the late 1990s and came with two wins of a Stanley Cup championship. The Sabres surged again after the 2004-05 lockout and were Cup contenders during the next two years. But unlike the Hurricanes, Buffalo was unable to push over the finish line and hoist the Cup. So sure their playoff drought is two years shorter, but the team is still down at least as low as the Hurricanes right now and does not have the 2006 Stanley Cup win memories to ease the current pain.
The Panthers partner well with the Columbus Blue Jackets in that the franchise just has never had much for any kind of postseason success. The Panthers came close to winning it all in 1996, but since the arrival of the Hurricanes in North Carolina, Florida has mustered only three playoff appearances and no series wins. I will gladly keep my 20 years of Hurricanes hockey memories over cashing them in for a life as a Florida Panthers fan.
With their return to the playoffs in 2017, the Oilers broke their tie with the Hurricanes as the two teams tied for the longest playoff drought. And no doubt, the Oilers have one of the most storied histories in all of hockey. And yes, the prospect of having Connor McDavid as a starting point for the future is intriguing. But at the end of the day and considering only since the Hurricanes started in 1997-98, I will take the winning side of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals over the years of rebuilding frustration and the current promise of Connor McDavid.
In terms of regular season success, playoff berths and even total series wins, the Washington Capitals might seem like an odd team to include with this group. The Caps have missed the playoffs only once in the past 10 years and have collected a decent number of series wins along the way. But the hockey gods are brilliant in the most devious way in coming up with different varieties of fan base suffering. In the case of the Capitals, it is regular bouts with significant disappointment when another strong regular season Capitals team falls woefully short in the playoffs. Until they win a Stanley Cup, each season just represents compounded frustration for lack of post-season success to go with good regular season hockey. I will take the Stanley Cup that we have and the other two deep playoff runs over years of frustration in April and May.
Landing in Minnesota just four years after the Carolina Hurricanes moved to North Carolina, the Wild are a bit like the Capitals in that they generally have a decent track record in the regular season. The team’s 2018 playoff appearance marks the team’s tenth, so they have made the playoffs more often than not. But also similar to the Capitals, the Wild have been unable to push over the hump and into the Finals. Worst might have been three consecutive playoff losses to the rival Blackhawks during their glory days. The Wild are a good hockey team, but with an older core and not much to show for a bunch of playoff series, I am not sure I would trade places with them right now.
That makes eight teams which is more than 25 percent of the league for which I do not see the grass as greener on the other side.
What say you Caniacs?
1) Are there any additional teams that you think have a worse lot in NHL life than the Hurricanes? Could it be possible to push up to 10-12 teams which would be about a third of the NHL?
2) Which, if any, of the eight that I listed above do you disagree with?