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Five dynasties to remember

by Mike G. Morreale

If the Red Wings do repeat as Stanley Cup champion this season, the organization will leave little doubt of its place among the League's most impressive dynasties in history. Here are the five greatest hockey dynasties since the NHL assumed control of the Stanley Cup following the 1925-26 season:

1. Montreal Canadiens (1953-79) -- The NHL's most storied franchise garnered 16 Stanley Cups over a 27-year span. During its five-year reign as champion from 1956-60, they never trailed a playoff series and weren't pushed to a Game 7 even once. Behind legendary coach Scotty Bowman, the Habs reeled off four straight championships from 1976-79, knocking off the Boston Bruins twice, in between beating Philadelphia in 1976 and the New York Rangers in 1979. In the four seasons the Habs won the Stanley Cup during the 1960s (1965, 1966, 1968, 1969), no Montreal player finished higher than third in regular-season scoring (Bobby Rousseau in 1966). In 1965, Jean Beliveau became the first winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP after scoring the Cup-winning goal in the seventh game that year.

2. Detroit Red Wings (1950-55) -- The Wings won four Cups (1950, 1952, 1954, 1955) in six seasons, starting in 1950 when Pete Babando scored the game-winner in double overtime of Game 7 to beat the Rangers in the Final. After the game, Ted Lindsay skated around the Olympia with the Cup, beginning a tradition. In 1952, Detroit became the first team in 17 years to go undefeated in the playoffs, led by the Production Line of Gordie Howe, Sid Abel and Lindsay, and second-year goalie Terry Sawchuk. In 1954, Marguerite Norris, Detroit's president, became the first woman to be presented the Stanley Cup while also becoming the first female to have her name engraved on the Cup.

3. New York Islanders (1980-83) -- Led by five Hall of Famers -- Billy Smith, Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier and Clark Gillies -- the Islanders won four straight Stanley Cups. Twice their championship path took them past the Edmonton Oilers -- a six-game triumph in the second round in 1981, and a four-game sweep in the 1983 Final after the Oilers had set scoring records during the regular season and had home-ice advantage.

4. Edmonton Oilers (1984-90) -- Led by two transcendent talents in Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, the Oilers captured five Stanley Cups (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990) in seven seasons. The 1983-84 team averaged 5.58 goals per game, which remains an NHL record. Additionally, the 1983-84 and 1985-86 clubs each included three 50-goal scorers and four 100-point players, also a League record.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs (1947-51) -- Toronto was the first team to win three straight Stanley Cups (1947-49), and earned its fourth in five seasons in 1951. The Leafs had the services of at least three of 13 future Hockey Hall of Famers during its championship run -- Syl Apps, George Armstrong, Max Bentley, Turk Broda, Hap Day, Fernie Flaman, Tim Horton, Ted Kennedy, Frank Mathers, Bud Poile, Joe Primeau, Conn Smythe and Harry Watson.
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