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Golden Knights join elite group in professional sports history

Become 20th team from NHL, MLB, NBA, NFL to reach championship series/game in first playoff appearance

by NHL PR @PR_NHL

The Vegas Golden Knights became the 20th team from either the NHL, MLB, NBA or NFL/AFL to reach the championship series or game in their first trip to the postseason (in respective expansion eras; via the Elias Sports Bureau). Vegas is the sixth team in NHL history to achieve the feat, joining the 1917-18 Toronto Arenas, 1925-26 Montreal Maroons, 1926-27 Boston Bruins, 1967-68 St. Louis Blues and 1995-96 Florida Panthers.

* Like the Golden Knights, the Arenas and Blues advanced to the Final in their inaugural season, though under different circumstances. Toronto did so in the first postseason in NHL history and St. Louis emerged from the all-expansion West Division during the first playoffs of the League's expansion era in 1968. The Maroons (second), Bruins (third) and Panthers (third) all reached the Final within their first three seasons.

* The 20-team list also includes the 2001 Baltimore Ravens - who began play as an NFL expansion team in 1996 after moving from Cleveland (where they had won four championships over 46 NFL seasons from 1950-1995) - and five NBA teams who joined from other leagues: the 1946-47 Philadelphia Warriors, 1946-47 Chicago Stags, 1947-48 Baltimore Bullets, 1948-49 Minneapolis Lakers and 1949-50 Syracuse Nationals.

* The remaining eight teams on the historic list started from scratch like the Golden Knights: the 1997 Florida Marlins (MLB; fifth season), 1976-77 Portland Trail Blazers (NBA; seventh season), 1967-68 Oakland Raiders (NFL/AFL; eighth season), 1969 New York Mets (MLB; eighth season), 1968-69 New York Jets (NFL/AFL; ninth season), 2008 Tampa Bay Rays (MLB; 11th season), 1984 San Diego Padres (MLB; 16th season) and 1977-78 Denver Broncos (NFL; 18th season).

* Ten teams have finished their first trip to the postseason as champions, including the Arenas (1918) and Warriors (1947) in the inaugural seasons for the NHL and NBA, respectively.

* The Golden Knights needed 12 playoff wins to reach the Cup Final, tied with the 1996 Panthers for the most of any of the teams referenced above. In fact, only four other teams required more than five playoff victories to reach the championship series or game: the Trail Blazers needed 10 wins to reach the 1977 NBA Finals, the Blues had eight wins entering the 1968 Stanley Cup Final and the Marlins and Rays each won seven games before playing in the World Series in 1997 and 2008, respectively.

* As the NHL's 31st active team, the Golden Knights are the third team on the list to reach the championship in a league of at least 30 teams joining the 2001 Ravens (NFL: 31 teams) and 2008 Rays (MLB: 30 teams).

Video: VGK@WPG, Gm5: Golden Knights celebrate, shake hands

 

Teams to reach championship series or game in first postseason appearance

 

NHL

Since NHL's inaugural season in 1917-18.

1917-18 Toronto Arenas (first season)
• Inaugural NHL season
• 3-2 series win vs. Vancouver Millionaires (of Pacific Coast Hockey Association) in Stanley Cup Final
• Pre-modern era (since 1943-44)
• Pre-expansion era (since 1967-68)
• The only NHL series prior to the Stanley Cup Final was the NHL Final, a two-game "total-goals" series between Toronto and the Montreal Canadiens - Toronto had a 1-1 record, winning by a total-goals score of 10-7
• Four teams in NHL

1925-26 Montreal Maroons (second season)
• 3-1 series win vs. Victoria Cougars (of Western Hockey League) in Stanley Cup Final
• Pre-modern era (since 1943-44)
• Pre-expansion era (since 1967-68)
• Played two two-game "total-goals" series to reach Final (faced winner of Western Hockey League)
- 1st total-goals series: 1-0-1 record to win series 6-4 vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
- 2nd total-goals series: 1-0-1 record to win series 2-1 vs. original Ottawa Senators
• Seven teams in NHL

1926-27 Boston Bruins (third season)
• 2-0-2 series loss vs. original Ottawa Senators in Stanley Cup Final
• First year that the Stanley Cup was competed for solely by NHL teams
• Pre-modern era (since 1943-44)
• Pre-expansion era (since 1967-68)
• Played two two-game "total-goals" series to reach Final:
- 1st total-goals series: 1-0-1 record to win series 10-5 vs. Chicago Blackhawks
- 2nd total-goals series: 1-0-1 record to win series 3-1 vs. New York Rangers
• 10 teams in NHL

1967-68 St. Louis Blues (first season)
• Represented all-expansion West Division
• 4-0 series loss vs. Montreal Canadiens in Stanley Cup Final
• First season in NHL's expansion era
• 12 teams in NHL
• Won Game 7 to reach Final

1995-96 Florida Panthers (third season)
• 4-0 series loss vs. Colorado Avalanche in Stanley Cup Final
• 26 teams in NHL
• Won Game 7 to reach Final

 

NBA

Since NBA's inaugural season in 1946-47. The NBA was known as the Basketball Association of America (BAA) through 1948-49.

1946-47 Philadelphia Warriors (first season)
• Inaugural NBA season
• 4-1 series win vs. Chicago Stags in Finals
• Won four playoff games to reach Finals
• 11 teams in NBA/BAA
• Now the Golden State Warriors

1946-47 Chicago Stags (first season)
• Inaugural NBA season
• 4-1 series loss vs. Philadelphia Warriors in Finals
• Won four playoff games to reach Finals
• 11 teams in NBA/BAA

1947-48 Baltimore Bullets (first season)
• Joined from American Basketball League (ABL)
• 4-2 series win vs. Philadelphia Warriors in Finals
• Won five playoff games to reach Finals (including one tiebreaker win)
• 8 teams in NBA/BAA
• Now the Washington Wizards

1948-49 Minneapolis Lakers (first season)
• Joined from National Basketball League (NBL)
• 4-2 series win vs. Washington Capitols in Finals
• Won four playoff games to reach Finals
• 12 teams in NBA/BAA
• Now the Los Angeles Lakers

1949-50 Syracuse Nationals (first season)
• Joined from National Basketball League (NBL)
• 4-2 series loss vs. Minneapolis Lakers in Finals
• Won four playoff games to reach Finals
• 17 teams in NBA
• Now the Philadelphia 76ers
• Via NBA.com: The summer of 1949 solidified the professional basketball picture, with the six surviving NBL teams being absorbed into the BAA and the league being renamed the National Basketball Association. Syracuse was the only NBL team in the Eastern Division.

1976-77 Portland Trail Blazers (seventh season)
• 4-2 series win vs. Philadelphia 76ers in Finals
• Won 10 playoff games to reach Finals
• 22 teams in NBA
• Via NBA.com: The 1976-77 season was a time of change in pro basketball. Four teams from the disbanded ABA -- the New York Nets, Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets and San Antonio Spurs -- became NBA franchises. A dispersal draft was used to allocate other ABA players.

 

NFL/AFL

Excludes the pre-Super Bowl era (pre-1966) because the only postseason game before that was the NFL championship game (or AFL when a separate league), barring a few instances where a division tiebreaker game was necessary. The AFL and NFL merged for 1970 season.

1967-68 Oakland Raiders (eighth season)
• 33-14 loss vs. Green Bay Packers (NFL) in Super Bowl II (at Orange Bowl in Miami)
• Won one playoff game to reach Super Bowl
• Raiders represented AFL in Super Bowl
• Second season in Super Bowl era
• 25 teams total (9 AFL, 16 NFL)
• Did not play a playoff game before 1967-68

1968-69 New York Jets (ninth season)
• 16-7 win vs. Baltimore Colts (NFL) in Super Bowl III (at Orange Bowl in Miami)
• Won one playoff game to reach Super Bowl
• Jets represented AFL in Super Bowl
• Third season in Super Bowl era
• 26 teams total (10 AFL, 16 NFL)
• Did not play a playoff game before 1968-69

1977-78 Denver Broncos (18th season)
• 27-10 loss vs. Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XII (at Superdome in New Orleans)
• Won two playoff games to reach Super Bowl
• 12th season in Super Bowl era
• 28 teams in NFL
• Part of the AFL from 1960-1969; did not play a playoff game before 1977-78

2000-01 Baltimore Raves (fifth season)
• Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996 after playing 46 NFL seasons in Cleveland from 1950-1995, winning four championships (1950, 1954, 1955, 1964)
• 34-7 win vs. New York Giants in Super Bowl XXV (at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa)
• Won three playoff games to reach Super Bowl
• Cleveland also won four All-American Football Conference titles from 1946-49
• Cleveland was awarded a new Browns franchise that began play in 1999 and has played only one playoff game since (2002)
• 31 teams in NFL

 

MLB

Since MLB expanded its playoff format in 1969. Prior to then, all 16 pre-expansion MLB franchises reached the World Series in the first season in which they were in postseason play since the World Series was the only postseason series from 1903 through 1968.

1969 New York Mets (eighth season)
• 4-1 series win vs. Baltimore Orioles in World Series
• Won three playoff games to reach World Series
• 24 teams in MLB

1984 San Diego Padres (16th season)
• 4-1 series loss vs. Detroit Tigers in World Series
• Won three playoff games to reach World Series
• 26 teams in MLB

1997 Florida Marlins (fifth season)
• 4-3 series win vs. Cleveland Indians in World Series
• Won seven playoff games to reach World Series
• 28 teams in MLB
• While the Marlins would not have taken part (they finished their second season 51-64, last in the NL East), the 1994 MLB Postseason was cancelled
• Florida defeated Cleveland, who was playing in its second World Series in three years

2008 Tampa Bay Rays (11th season)
• 4-1 series loss vs. Philadelphia Phillies in World Series
• Won seven playoff games to reach World Series
• 30 teams in MLB

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