Jun 9, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Hockey fans hold up a home-made Stanley Cup as they arrive before game three of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final between the New York Rangers and the Los Angeles Kings at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Proof of Parity in the NHL


One of the major benefits of the salary cap system instituted during the ’04-05 lockout has been the semblance of parity in the NHL. While many of the playoff teams have remained the same, we have not seen a repeat Stanley Cup champion since the 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings.

The closest we have come to a dynasty in the post-lockout NHL is the Chicago Blackhawks winning two Stanley Cups in the span of four years. If the Los Angeles Kings win on Wednesday night, they will win their second Cup in three years. While it shows that teams are still capable of dominating the rest of the league, it’s a far cry from the Islanders and Oilers dynasties of the 1980s.

While eight different teams won the Cup in the 1990s (as opposed to four in the 80s), the series were often one-sided affairs. with five Stanley Cups awarded to teams that swept the final in four games. This includes a stretch from 1995 to 1998, where the Stanley Cup Final ended in a sweep every time.

A team has not finished a final in four games since the 1998 Detroit Red Wings swept the Washington Capitals. Since then, the losing team has won at least two wins all but twice (Carolina lost 4-1 to Detroit in 2002 and Ottawa lost 4-1 to Anaheim in 2007).

It still remains to be seen if the Kings can complete the first Stanley Cup Final sweep in 16 years, but the fact that it’s been that long shows that parity does exist in the NHL. Not only has a different team raised the Cup each year since 1998, but nearly every series has been competitive.

We may remember the Islanders, Canadiens, and Oilers dynasties of the past, but parity is essential for the NHL to gain new fans. A dynasty is a tremendous marketing opportunity for a sports league, but fans want parity. At the start of a new NHL season, we celebrate the fact that history has shown a new team (IE: “My Team”) can and will raise the Stanley Cup the following June.

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  • BT Farley

    You’re right bud. Good post. I think parody is important especially for the smaller market teams like Nashville, Florida, Carolina, and Columbus. If they stand a chance at filling their arenas, their has to be hope for those fans. Hope their team has a chance to at least make the playoffs. Teams like the Penguins and the Blackhawks Drew up a blueprint of how to build a contender post salary cap era. Teams have to remain patient and build through the draft. Lower market teams can win without spending to the upper limit of the Salary Cap. It takes solid leadership through management and ownership working together. It also takes some luck. Not every top 5 draft pick becomes a star player. Benoit Pouliot was the 6th overall pick for the Wild. He’s on the NYR 3rd line.

    • mmajeski06

      Agreed!
      That is what separates the NHL from the NBA and MLB. In those leagues the big market, big wallet teams control the league. Miami can scoop up all of the stars and dominate the NBA.
      I am a Cleveland Indians fan, and it is difficult to get excited each season when I know that my team is nothing but a farm team for the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers.

      • BT Farley

        MLB still has no Salary Cap. That needs to change. The Parody is possibly the only thing keeping the NHL ahead of woman’s pro basketball and WNCAA Softball. College Football and NASCAR are both ahead of the NHL as far as Forbs Magizine lists the value of pro sports.

        • http://marc.ytmnd.com/ B.J. Cummings

          YOU’RE a parody!

          • BT Farley

            Thanks for leaving the comment. Enjoy your day. We here at Fansided thank you for your devotion to our site.

          • http://marc.ytmnd.com/ B.J. Cummings

            No problem. The word is “parity” by the way

  • BT Farley

    What would also be good for the NHL is if some of the small market teams would win a few years in a row and become contenders. If Fla & Car made the playoffs a few years in a row it would help the NHL grow. Nashville too. Columbus has a good thing going and so do the Avs.