PITTSBURGH – Five Stanley Cup titles in 12 years. The Red Wings have won, on average, a Stanley Cup every 2.4 years since 1997. Thirty teams enter each season with the express hopes and dreams of winning Lord Stanley’s Cup and the Wings have had a shot in each of the last 18 postseasons, a truly remarkable accomplishment.
“The two things about our organization that I’m, besides the Stanley Cups, that I’m most proud of number one, it’s 100 points for nine consecutive seasons and I know that there is overtime and shootouts now, but in a parity league the last four years – it’s hard to get 100 points consistently, year in and year out,” General Manager Ken Holland said.
When someone says the word dynasty in an NHL context, one thinks of great teams like the Canadiens from the late 1950s and 1970s, the NY Islanders in the early 1980s, and the Edmonton Oilers of the late 1980s. The Canadiens won five Stanley Cup titles in seven years under the tutelage of coach Scotty Bowman in the 1970s, but even more impressive was when Maurice Richard led the franchise to a league-best five straight from 1956 to 1960. With the likes of Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier on the roster, the Oilers took over with five Cup wins in seven seasons.
So can you refer to the Wings as a modern dynasty in the same breath as the previously mentioned dynasties?
“I just think it’s a special organization from top to bottom and, for me, I think you can put this team up against any of the teams in history and they would be right there with them,” ESPN the Magazine senior writer E.J. Hradek said. “I think this really is a dynasty they’ve built in Detroit. I don’t think there’s any question about that for me.”
Sure, it may have taken the Wings 12 years to win five titles while the Canadiens and Oilers did it in seven or less, but ruling out the Wings from the dynasty label merely because of that comparison does the franchise injustice. Edmonton and Montreal never had to compete under a salary cap nor did those past dynasties fight against 30 teams for the Cup each year.
“For them to win five Cups in 12 years, I think that’s probably even more dramatic than the Edmonton Oilers winning five in seven during that era just because it’s more difficult and the last two, of course, were in the salary cap era and I think those Cups is a more arduous journey because there is so much parity,” USA Today reporter Kevin Allen said.
The Red Wings durability over time despite changes in the game attests to the strength of the team’s front office and ownership, who made the necessary adjustments after the NHL imposed the salary cap in 2005 and still found a way to win.
“Five Cups in 12 years is extraordinary given that the Wings won before the salary cap, after the salary cap. They’ve won losing great players and replacing them with others. It’s a tribute to this organization to be able to win under any circumstances,” Sports Illustrated reporter Michael Farber said.
The best part? Wings general manager Ken Holland believes his team has at least three or four more years as a legitimate contender for the Stanley Cup.