It seems like the early stages of the off-season are a tough time for optimism in Blue Jackets discussions. People tend to focus on the lack of playoff success, the lack of a serious Stanley Cup run, and the inability to draft all-star players at the draft. While I can appreciate any number of failed seasons can cause even the more patient fans to question the ability of a franchise, the Blue Jackets plight is not THAT bad.
I decided to see how poorly the Jackets measure up to some of the other NHL teams struggling to find post season success and a Stanley Cup to call their own. As it stands, Columbus is tied for 19th in terms of longest drought without the Cup.
- Toronto Maple Leafs – 44 seasons
- St. Louis Blues – 44 seasons (no Cups)
- Buffalo Sabres – 41 seasons (no Cups)
- Vancouver Canucks – 41 seasons (no Cups)
- Washington Capitals – 37 seasons (no Cups)
- Philadelphia Flyers – 36 seasons
- Phoenix Coyotes – 32 seasons (no Cups)
- New York Islanders – 28 seasons
- Calgary Flames – 22 seasons
- Edmonton Oilers – 21 seasons
- San Jose Sharks – 20 seasons (no Cups)
- Ottawa Senators – 19 seasons (no Cups)
- Montreal Canadiens – 18 seasons
- Florida Panthers – 18 seasons (no Cups)
- New York Rangers – 17 seasons
- Nashville Predators – 13 seasons (no Cups)
- Winnipeg Jets – 12 seasons (no Cups)
- Dallas Stars – 12 seasons
- Minnesota Wild – 11 seasons (no Cups)
- Columbus Blue Jackets – 11 seasons (no Cups)
As you can see, of the nineteen teams ahead of Columbus on this list, eleven teams have yet to win a Stanley Cup. In addition to those eleven who have never won, five teams have gone twenty years or more since winning their last Stanley Cup. Can you imagine the pain and suffering that fans of Buffalo, St Louis, and Vancouver feel? More than forty years in the National Hockey League without winning. Suddenly, eleven years seems like nothing.
I then started to ponder how many other teams have had similar struggles reaching the post-season. Columbus has missed the last three playoffs, but they are certainly not the only ones struggling:
- Toronto Maple Leafs – 7 seasons
- Edmonton Oilers – 6 seasons
- New York Islanders – 5 seasons
- Winnipeg Jets – 5 seasons
- Dallas Stars – 4 seasons
- Minnesota Wild – 4 seasons
- Calgary Flames – 3 seasons
- Carolina Hurricanes – 3 seasons
- Columbus Blue Jackets – 3 seasons
As it stands, Columbus is tied for seventh with Calgary and Carolina in post-season droughts. This says little about their unfortunate run in 08/09 but helps to recognize just how many teams can struggle with a similar fate. Taking a look at the list, many of these teams have benefited from strong draft picks recently, and at least a couple of them are traveling in the right direction after having made the appropriate adjustments to their roster.
Speaking of struggling in the playoffs, I then considered whether Columbus is truly the worst playoff team in the league, based on their first round exit in the only post season run they have had. Surprisingly, they once again failed to top the charts:
- New York Islanders – 18 seasons
- Florida Panthers – 15 seasons
- Winnipeg Jets – 12 seasons
- Columbus Blue Jackets – 11 seasons
In this group, neither Columbus or Winnipeg (formerly Atlanta) have a series win to the franchise name. While seeing Winnipeg on there did not surprise me, the lack of success between Florida and the Islanders is downright unfortunate. Both teams now feature a slew of bright young talent thanks to years of disappointing finishes, but neither teams seem poised to take their teams deep into the post season within the next couple of years.
Some may consider this information silly because of the few teams who have had continued success recently, but the sheer number of teams who have yet to win Stanley Cups in their 20+ years as a franchise should show some indication of just how difficult it is to be the best team in this league. I hope these numbers work to remove the wall of pessimism plaguing a lot of Blue Jackets discussion, and help to recognize the timing needed to rebuild or create the ideal team. This will be a summer of change without question, and I urge everyone to give the organization the opportunity to provide Columbus with a team built for many years of quality, rather than another brief post-season stint.
Carry the Flag.