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Vegas Watch: How long did it take NHL teams to win their first Stanley Cup?

Sam McCaig
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Vegas Watch: How long did it take NHL teams to win their first Stanley Cup?

Vegas Golden Knights. Source: Getty Images

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Vegas Watch: How long did it take NHL teams to win their first Stanley Cup?

Sam McCaig
By:

The expansion Golden Knights are getting closer and closer to winning the Stanley Cup in their first season. How long did it take the NHL's other teams to capture their first title – or at least get to the Cup final?

The Vegas Golden Knights, an expansion team in its debut NHL season, might win the Stanley Cup.

No, like, seriously.

Suffice to say, this scenario doesn't arise often. Only once has an NHL team won the Cup in its first year, and that was Toronto – then known as the Arenas – in the league's first season in 1917-18. So, yeah, we're into uncharted territory here.

How long did it take each of the NHL's 31 teams to win their first Cup? Or, if they have yet to win one, how long did it take for them to get to the Cup final for the first time? Or, if they have yet to get to the Cup final, what's their best playoff run to date?

Glad you asked:

ANAHEIM DUCKS
First season: 1993-94
First Stanley Cup: 2007

The Ducks made the Stanley Cup final in their 10th season in 2003, but lost to the New Jersey Devils. Four years later in 2007, led by the likes of Teemu Selanne, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger and a couple of kids named Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, Anaheim claimed its first and only NHL championship.

ARIZONA COYOTES
First season: 1979-80
First Stanley Cup: n/a

The closest the Coyotes have come to a Cup was making the Western Conference final in 2012. In fact, that's the last time the hard-luck franchise has made the playoffs.

BOSTON BRUINS
First season: 1924-25
First Stanley Cup: 1929

The Roaring Twenties came to an end with the Bruins winning the 1929 Stanley Cup, with old-time hockey Hall of Famers such as Tiny Thompson, Eddie Shore, Dit Clapper and Cy Denneny showing the way.

BUFFALO SABRES
First season: 1970-71
First Stanley Cup: n/a

Gilbert Perreault and the Sabres qualified for the NHL final in the team's fifth season in 1975, losing to Bobby Clarke and the Philadelphia Flyers. And Dominik Hasek and the Sabres made it in 1999, losing to the Dallas Stars on Brett Hull's infamous "No Goal" triple-OT Cup winner. 

CALGARY FLAMES
First season: 1972-73
First Stanley Cup: 1989

The Flames fell to the Montreal Canadiens in their first trip to the final in 1986, but they didn't have to wait too long to get revenge. Three years later in 1989, they faced the Habs again, and this time the Flames came out on top. It's also the last time the Stanley Cup was contested by two teams from Canada.

CAROLINA HURRICANES
First season: 1979-80
First Stanley Cup: 2006

Seventeen seasons in Hartford, and the best the Whalers could do was win one playoff round in 1986. Besides that, they either lost the opening series or missed the post-season altogether. Things have gone better in Carolina, even if the Hurricanes haven't made the playoffs since 2009. The Canes were Cup finalists in 2002, losing to the Detroit Red Wings, and then captured the franchise's first championship in a seven-game showdown against the Edmonton Oilers in 2006.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
First season: 1926-27
First Stanley Cup: 1934

The Blackhawks weren't exactly an Original Six powerhouse – it took them 40 years before they finished first in the NHL regular season. They did, however, win a Stanley Cup in their eighth season, making the playoffs with a 20-17-11 record. Four years later in 1938, the Hawks became the "worst" team in NHL history to win a Cup, overcoming a 14-25-9 record to reign supreme in the playoffs.

COLORADO AVALANCHE
First season: 1979-80
First Stanley Cup: 1996

This is a tough one for Quebec Nordiques fans. After 16 (mostly) losing seasons in Quebec – and just when things were starting to look up – the franchise relocated to Colorado in June 1995. Six months later, they acquired Patrick Roy from Montreal. Six months after that, they won their first Stanley Cup.

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
First season: 2000-01
First Stanley Cup: n/a

They Blue Jackets have never won a playoff round – they're 0-for-4 and have missed the post-season 13 times – but they're coming off back-to-back playoff berths for the first time in franchise history. Hey, it's progress.

DALLAS STARS
First season: 1967-68
First Stanley Cup: 1999

It took a few years and few franchise moves, but the California Golden Seals/Cleveland Barons/Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars were the "No Goal" beneficiaries against Buffalo in the final Cup final of the 20th century.

DETROIT RED WINGS
First season: 1926-27
First Stanley Cup: 1936

Jack Adams, for whom the league's coaching award is named, guided the Red Wings to their first title in their 10th season, and then to their second title in their 11th season.

EDMONTON OILERS
First season: 1979-80
First Stanley Cup: 1984

It helps when you enter the league with Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Kevin Lowe, and then add Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson and Grant Fuhr over the next couple seasons. It took the Oilers five years to win their first Cup and they went on to win five in a seven-year span. Since 1990, though, not so much winning.

FLORIDA PANTHERS
First season: 1993-94
First Stanley Cup: n/a

They were almost Vegas before Vegas was Vegas. The expansion Panthers had a Cinderella playoff run in their third season before getting swept by Colorado in the 1996 final. They've only made the post-season four times since, and haven't won a round.

LOS ANGELES KINGS
First season: 1967-68
First Stanley Cup: 2012

It took 45 years for this "original" expansion franchise to win its first Stanley Cup, but they only had to wait two years for the second championship.

MINNESOTA WILD
First season: 2000-01
First Stanley Cup: n/a

They were almost Florida after Florida was almost Vegas. That is to say, Minnesota's best playoff showing was its run to the Western Conference final in the expansion franchise's third season in 2002-03.

MONTREAL CANADIENS
First season: 1917-18
First Stanley Cup: 1924

It took the league's most successful team seven years to win its first Stanley Cup. Among other hockey luminaries, the Habs' first championship team featured goalie Georges Vezina, captain Sprague Cleghorn (and his brother Odie) and original NHL superstars Howie Morenz, Aurel Joliat and Joe Malone.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS
First season: 1998-99
First Stanley Cup: n/a

In nearly 20 years of existence, the closest the Preds have come to the Cup was last year's appearance in the final, which ended with a loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. You might want to keep an eye on these guys, though.

NEW JERSEY DEVILS
First season: 1974-75
First Stanley Cup: 1995

The Kansas City Scouts lasted two terrible seasons before becoming the Colorado Rockies, who lasted six terrible seasons before becoming the New Jersey Devils. The Devils were terrible for nearly another decade, but then Martin Brodeur, Scott Niedermayer and Scott Stevens came along, and the franchise's first Cup in 1995 soon followed.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS
First season: 1972-73
First Stanley Cup: 1980

They won 12 games – and lost 60 – in their expansion season, but then Bill Torrey drafted the likes of Bryan Trottier, Denis Potvin and Mike Bossy, and Al Arbour coached them to four straight Cups.

NEW YORK RANGERS
First season: 1926-27
First Stanley Cup: 1928

Led by the Cook brothers, Bill and Bun, as well as Frank Boucher, Ching Johnson and goalie Lorne Chabot – and coached by Lester Patrick – the Rangers' first Cup came in their second season. They won again in '33 and '40, then waited 54 years for messiah Messier.

OTTAWA SENATORS
First season: 1992-93
First Stanley Cup: n/a

Twenty-five years in the NHL, the best the Sens have done is take the Ducks to six games in the 2007 Cup final.

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
First season: 1967-68
First Stanley Cup: 1974

If you can't beat 'em, beat 'em up. Seven years after joining the NHL as part of 1967 expansion, Bobby Clarke and Bernie Parent led the Broad Street Bullies to a title. And they did it again the following season.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
First season: 1967-68
First Stanley Cup: 1991

It was tough slogging for the first two-plus decades in Pittsburgh, but then Mario Lemieux showed up.

ST. LOUIS BLUES
First season: 1967-68
First Stanley Cup: n/a

The Blues might be the best franchise without a Stanley Cup, even if they haven't come particularly close since their first three seasons in the league. They made the Cup final in each of their first three years – when the NHL went from six to 12 teams in 1967, the six new clubs were placed in the same division, which meant an expansion team would make the final (and get clobbered by an Original Six franchise). They made the playoffs 25 years in a row from 1980 through 2004, but only got as far as the conference final twice. They're practically a perennial contender, but their Cup quest is up to 50 years and counting.

SAN JOSE SHARKS
First season: 1991-92
First Stanley Cup: n/a

Joe Thornton & Co. finally made the Cup final in 2016, running into Sidney Crosby and the Penguins.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
First season: 1992-93
First Stanley Cup: 2004

The Lightning missed the playoffs nine times in their first 10 seasons, but it all came together for Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St-Louis, Brad Richards and the rest of the Bolts in a seven-game victory over Calgary in 2004.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
First season: 1917-18
First Stanley Cup: 1918

What's this about a Cup drought? As mentioned in the intro, Toronto won it all in its very first season – they were called the Arenas at the time – beating the Vancouver Millionaires. They won again as the St. Patricks in 1922, and won for the first time as the Maple Leafs in 1932.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS
First season: 1970-71
First Stanley Cup: n/a

Three different versions of the Canucks have made the final, with all three attempts coming up short. Vancouver lost to the Islanders' dynasty in 1982, to the Rangers' destiny in 1994 and to the Bruins' defense-ery in 2011. The '94 and '11 series both went seven games.

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
First season: 2017-18
First Stanley Cup: n/a

The Greatest Expansion Story Ever Told.

WASHINGTON CAPITALS
First season: 1974-75
First Stanley Cup: n/a

The best the Caps have done was the wrong side of a four-game sweep against Detroit in the 1998 Cup final. Your move, Alex Ovechkin.

WINNIPEG JETS
First season: 2011-12
First Stanley Cup: n/a

The farthest the Jets have ever gone in the NHL playoffs is where they are right now.

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Vegas Watch: How long did it take NHL teams to win their first Stanley Cup?