If Blackhawks are a Dynasty, So Was Detroit
On Monday, the Chicago Blackhawks won their franchise's sixth Stanley Cup and their third in the last six years. Commissioner Gary Bettman when addressing the Chicago crowd said: "I'd say you have a dynasty."
If the commissioner of the NHL, arguably the most powerful man in the hockey world, is saying it, regardless of your thoughts on him, it must be true. However what also must be considered true is that this now confirms the Detroit Red Wings of the late '90's and early 2000's were also a dynasty.
Currently, no honor of any sort exists for that era of Red Wings in the Hockey Hall of Fame though with the commissioner's decree of the Blackhawks being a dynasty, it would be absolutely criminal to ignore the Red Wings' similar (if not better) accomplishments in their time.
By the Numbers
First let's analyze the Blackhawks of the now. Three Stanley Cups in six years ('10, '13, '15). Chicago made the playoffs in all six years in question, and had a postseason series record of 14-3. The Hawks won 271 games in the regular seasons (296 if you pro-rate the lockout shortened '13 season; more on that in a bit) and won two central division titles.
Direct comparison of the '97-02 Red Wings: Three Stanley Cups ('97, '98, '02), check. Made playoffs all six years, check. Postseason series record of 14-3, check. 273 wins in the regular season and three central division titles, better and better than the Hawks.
I'm not a professional mathematician but those numbers are pretty similar if we're crowning dynasties.
The Salary Cap Side of Things
Much has been made though that this is a "cap-era" dynasty and that it's hard to keep teams together, as if somehow that makes this run more impressive than similar runs pre-2004. The Chicago Blackhawks are either a dynasty or they are not. "Cap-era" does not get to qualify dynasty declaration statements.
I believe that the Chicago Blackhawks of now are a full-fledged dynasty and so too are the Red Wings that have not yet been proclaimed. More proof coming up.
Nine players skated in the playoffs in 2010 and in 2015 for the Chicago Blackhawks Cup runs. In no particular order:
On the bookends of the Detroit Stanley Cups ('97 and '02) there were also nine players who skated in the playoffs for both Cup winning teams. In no particular order:
It's hard to keep a team together in the "cap-era"? It was also hard to keep a team together in the non "cap-era".
"Teams are so close together with the cap, parity is higher than it has ever been in the NHL".
In the two eras being compared, there has not been any format changes to the way the Stanley Cup is won. Sure, there is a bracket style setup now as opposed to the "re-seed each round" format previously implemented, but now and in the past the Stanley Cup was, is and always will be the hardest trophy to win in sports.
Did the '97 Red Wings have to win 16 games to hoist the cup? Yes. Did the 2015 Chicago Blackhawks have to do the same? Yes. 18 skaters and two goalies were iced every single game for an all out war every other day for two straight months in both 1997 and in 2015.
The playoffs haven't changed, so the argument that the playoffs have gotten more difficult and somehow Chicago should be above Detroit because we are in a "cap-era" is moot.
In the current time frames being looked at the Chicago Blackhawks won one of their Stanley Cups in a lockout year where only 48 games were played in the regular season. Does this cheapen how hard they had to work that year to win in the playoffs? Some will say yes, I say no.
In that abridged season, 48 games were played in 99 days for most teams. The Blackhawks won 36 games out of 48. After an amazing sprint to the finish like that where Chicago seemingly never had a slump, they were a heavy favorite to win the Cup that year, and for good reason. Everyone wanted to knock them off their pedestal, and no one did.
The President's Trophy winners win the Cup, Detroit did that too in 2002. Say what you want about parity, but dominance will always trump parity, and these teams were dominant.
"But with no cap, the Red Wings had no limit on the talent they could bring in."
This point is the only leg that non-dynasty supporters have and it's a very weak leg to stand on. It's true the Detroit Red Wings of the era in question were icing Hall of Fame line after Hall of Fame line against opponents, and until the Blackhawks break up their band of brothers and retire to greener pastures, we won't know a direct comparison.
For fun though, let's speculate who could get into the Hall of Fame in this Chicago era. Toews? Absolutely. Kane? Definitely. Keith? You bet. Hossa? Seabrook? They'll make it in a down year.
From this most recent team, Brad Richards and Kimmo Timonen, though not the most instrumental during this Cup run, still have had tremendous careers and would get looks when it comes time to vote. Oduya and Hjalmarsson? They still have time to carve out more quality seasons to add to their Hall of Fame resume.
And let's not forget any other Hall of Fame potential on this team. Corey Crawford has two cups and is an absolutely stellar netminder at the age of 30, and he still has elite years ahead of him. Teuvo Teravainen had been hailed when he was in the Chicago farm system as a future superstar, who's to say he won't hit Hall of Fame level of play if they're saying that about him?
By my count that's 11 players who have played in this era that will get in or get consideration for the Hall of Fame on the Blackhawks. Currently the Detroit Red Wings era has 10 Hall of Famers from '97-'02 that played in the winged wheel. By order of induction:
The numbers seem to speak for themselves as comparable.
EDIT (6/29/15): Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov have been announced as members in the 2015 Class of the Hockey Hall of Fame. This brings Detroit's 97-02 Dynasty Hall of Fame totals to 12 players.
The last point I'll make is that the Chicago Blackhawks are still living in the now. What's to say they won't win another cup in the next year or two or three and cement this dynasty status even more? Even if they do if you retroactively add to the Red Wings era by going from '95-'02, you add two conference finals and one Stanley Cup appearance to the Detroit argument, along with a year that still stands as one of the best NHL regular seasons, amassing 131 points and 62 wins in 1995-96.
Any way you cut it if you consider the Chicago Blackhawks of the here and now worthy of a dynasty and a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame then you must put the Detroit Red Wings of the '90s and '00s in there as well. So get ready Toronto, you're going to have to make space for two more shiny placards of dynasties from Original Six franchises.