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Melrose Minute: Five greatest teams ever

Monday, 10.24.2011 / 10:00 AM
Melrose Minute
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Melrose Minute
Melrose Minute: Five greatest teams ever
Former NHL head coach and player Barry Melrose starts a new gig this season: He will be blogging for NHL.com throughout the 2011-2012 season.

Some great teams have played in the history of the NHL, but in the 118 years people have been battling for the Stanley Cup, these, to me, are the five greatest teams to have ever lifted it.

5. 1970 Boston Bruins

Bobby Orr led the Bruins to the Stanley Cup on 1970, scoring one of the most iconic goals in NHL history along the way. (Photo: Getty Images)
This team is on the list because Bobby Orr had to be on this list. It had the best power play I had ever seen with Orr and Phil Esposito. It was fun to watch. They scored a ton of goals, they were in a ton of fights, they had a bunch of free-spirited guys and they loved to play. You could tell just by watching. When they won the Cup in 1970 I think a lot of people thought we might have another dynasty in the making -- a team that would win five or six Stanley Cups.

I put them at five because they underachieved, but if you look at the team that beat them twice and stopped that dynasty it was the Montreal Canadiens. This was a real fun team to watch. It was Bobby Orr in his prime, it was Espo in his prime, Derek Sanderson in his prime, Johnny Bucyk in his prime -- it had everything. It was an awesome team to watch. You never missed an opportunity to watch the Boston Bruins in 1970.

4. 1982 New York Islanders

I always said about the Islanders that if you walked into the rink in the second period, you couldn't tell if they were winning or losing. That was how they played. They were just a machine. They had no weaknesses, they could score with Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin, Bryan Trottier, Clark Gillies, they were great defensively, great in net, and just very deep. They were tough because they had to come up during the Flyers Broad Street Bullies era, but they could also beat you with skill. They were so consistent. They never went into a slump, they never had any breakdowns.

They were just a great, great team.

3. 1987 Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers had five Cups in seven years. Can you imagine that 1987 team? Gretzky, Messier, Kurri, Coffey, Lowe, McSorley. It was just phenomenal how talented that team was. The '87 team won it in seven games against Philadelphia, which was just a great series, but this team changed the way the game was played. It was wide open then, it was end to end, it was fast and no one did it better than the Edmonton Oilers. It was a phenomenal group they had together for those seven or eight years when they were the dominant team by far in the NHL.

I picked the '87 team because the early teams that won the Cup were a little bit younger and by 1987 they had matured. They were winners. They expected to win and everyone was scared of them. It may be the most talented group ever assembled on one team. If that team stayed together and Pocklington didn't sell Gretzky, how many Cups could that team have won? In 1993, I had Kurri, Gretzky and McSorley in Los Angeles and they were still great players.

2. 1978 Montreal Canadiens

The 1978 Montreal Canadiens dominated the NHL, with Ken Dryden keeping the crease clear for his Habs' teammates. (Photo: Getty Images)
They had four straight Cups, and this group of guys was losing maybe seven or eight games a year in a 72-game season. It was such a dominant group of players: Lafleur, Cournoyer, Lapointe, Savard, Robinson, Kenny Dryden -- what a team. Just an awesome, awesome group of talented players. Looking over this, there are so many great Montreal teams, but this 1978 team was just an unbelievable group of players with an unbelievable coach in Scotty Bowman.

1. 1958 Montreal Canadiens

If you win five Cups in a row, you've got to be great. I picked the '58 team, coached by Toe Blake, because it's in the middle of the five straight Cups so you have the maturity, all the guys have been together for a long time. They would have been stronger than the team that won the first won in 1956. Maurice Richard, Doug Harvey, probably the best forward and defenseman in the game, and Jacques Plante in net, probably the best goalie in the game.

To win five Cups in a row, to have that hunger and be that amazing is just a phenomenal feat by that organization.
Quote of the Day

This is a big year for us in a lot of ways. You can see Garth and management really trying to find that solution to get us into the playoffs and consistently have that. The pressure is great. You have to enjoy it. It just means there's a great opportunity ahead of you.

— Islanders captain John Tavares