It took the Los Angeles Kings 45 years. It took the Pittsburgh Penguins 24. The St. Louis Blues have been in the NHL for 49 seasons and have never won it.
The Stanley Cup is known as the hardest trophy to win in all of sports. The opportunity that lies before the Predators is not only to hoist it above their heads at center ice in either Nashville, Tennessee or Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but also to become the eighth fastest franchise ever to win it.
Of the 30 teams in the NHL, the following 12 have never won the Cup:
- St. Louis Blues – 49 seasons in existence
- Buffalo Sabres – 46
- Vancouver Canucks – 46
- Washington Capitals – 42
- Arizona Coyotes (previously the Winnipeg Jets) – 37
- San Jose Sharks – 25
- Ottawa Senators – 24
- Florida Panthers – 23
- Nashville Predators – 18
- Winnipeg Jets (previously the Atlanta Thrashers) – 17
- Columbus Blue Jackets – 16
- Minnesota Wild – 16
If you remove the “Original Six” of the New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens – who got a 41-year head start on everyone else – that means 12 teams who have come into existence since expansion in 1967-68 have won it all at least once.
- Los Angeles Kings – 45 seasons before first Cup
- Dallas Stars – 32*
- Carolina Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers – 27
- Pittsburgh Penguins – 24
- New Jersey Devils/Colorado Rockies/Kansas City Scouts – 21
- Colorado Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques – 17
- Calgary Flames/Atlanta Flames – 17
- Anaheim Ducks – 14
- Tampa Bay Lightning – 12
- New York Islanders – 8
- Philadelphia Flyers – 8
- Edmonton Oilers – 5
What General Manager David Poile has done since even before the puck dropped for the first time in October of 1998 is build this team from the ground up. Think about that for a second. All 264 players that have put on a Preds sweater and stepped onto the ice for a regular season or playoff game have done so under the same man. There aren’t some players who were drafted by one guy then, once he got fired, developed under another guy who then, after he was fired, matured into members of a Cup contender. None of that. Every player who has ever played for the franchise has done so under Poile.
If the Predators hoist Lord Stanley in two weeks, they’ll move from List A to List B and they’ll have done it faster than a lot of organizations who are known for being a perennial contenders. Take their Final opponent, Pittsburgh, for instance.
Pick any off season in recent memory. The Penguins have always been named among the favorites. So much so that people who have followed hockey for the past 25-30 years, rarely recall seeing them as a basement team because they’ve won four Cups in that span. What people forget, however, is it took them 24 years before they won their first.
The 23 years prior to that parade in the Steel City? Pittsburgh had made 12 coaching changes, had 10 seasons of 29 wins or less and missed the playoffs completely 13 times. Nashville, by comparison, has made just a single coaching change, had just four seasons with 29 wins or less (excluding the lockout-shortened season in 2012-13, of course) and missed the playoffs just eight times.
Despite a core of young guys who should be in Music City for a long time such as Roman Josi (26), Ryan Ellis (25), Mattias Ekholm (26), Ryan Johansen (24), Filip Forsberg (22), Viktor Arvidsson (23) and Kevin Fiala (20), whether this could be the start of a similar story for the Predators remains to be seen. What is at hand, though, is the summit. By navigating their way through the playoffs all the way to the Final, the Predators have already climbed Mount Everest. But can they reach the summit?
If they do, they’ll be the eighth fastest franchise (excluding the Original Six) ever to do it.