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Blackhawks, Kings aren’t dynasties, but they’re setting standard for NHL

Updated: June 15, 2014 10:33PM



Back in February, when 150 of the best players in the NHL flew halfway around the world to Sochi, Russia, to play in the Olympics, many of the players and coaches left behind went somewhere warm to relax and rest up for the stretch run. Not Darryl Sutter. He was in the office almost every day, plotting how to dethrone the champs.

‘‘We had to figure out, how do we get by the Chicago Blackhawks?’’ Sutter said as his Los Angeles Kings paraded the Stanley Cup around him on the ice Friday at Staples Center. ‘‘We didn’t waste our time over the break. We spent a lot of time on that.’’

The Kings did it. With their tremendous strength down the middle, their strong defensive game, their physical play and their big-game goaltender, the Kings beat the Hawks. In Game 7. In overtime. Because a shot by Alec Martinez fluttered off Nick Leddy’s sweater and past Corey Crawford.

No, there’s not much of a gap between the two premier teams in the NHL. And there won’t be for at least a few years to come. Nothing comes easy in the NHL, but it doesn’t feel as though we’ve seen the last Cup for either team.

That said, let’s just get this out of the way right now: The Kings aren’t a dynasty. Winning back-to-back Cups doesn’t make you a dynasty, let alone two in three seasons.

Also, the Hawks are
nowhere near a dynasty. Winning two Stanley Cups in four seasons doesn’t qualify. And even if they win the next one, three Cups in six seasons isn’t a dynasty. It would be unprecedented in the modern-day NHL, but it’s not a dynasty.

Between 1956 and 1960, the Montreal Canadiens won five consecutive Cups, going 40-9 in the playoffs. (Back then, the postseason was only two rounds.) That’s a dynasty.

Between 1980 and 1984, the New York Islanders won four Cups in a row, then made it all the way to the
Final in their ‘‘Drive for Five.’’ They won a mind-boggling 19 consecutive playoff series along the way, a number unlikely to be touched in any sport again. That’s a dynasty.

UCLA won seven consecutive NCAA men’s basketball titles. That’s a dynasty.

The Bulls were a dynasty in the early 1990s, then they were a dynasty again in the late 1990s. They weren’t a dynasty for the entire 1990s.

After all, think of the origin of the term. The Ming held China for 276 years. Consecutively. The Yuan didn’t take it back for a year or two at any point. Dynasties require utter domination, year after year after year.

The Kings and Hawks are really good teams, and both will be contenders for years to come. But dynasties? No. You won’t see another NHL dynasty. There’s too much parity. Just look at how good the Western Conference is. You’ve got the Kings and Hawks at the top. You’ve got the Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues, powers in their own right. You’ve got the up-and-coming Colorado Avalanche and the fast-rising Minnesota Wild.

‘‘It’s a war out here,’’ Kings general manager Dean Lombardi said. ‘‘Just getting through this conference every year is going to be like this. . . . The matchup with Chicago, the two teams were so dead-on. If you look at it on paper, it’s a seven-game series every year. They’re so similar to us. And the way they’re set up, they’re not going anywhere. They’ve set the benchmark. We had to reach it.’’

That’s what these teams are. They’re the benchmarks, the model franchises everyone else is gunning for and striving to be. That’s good enough. Don’t dumb down the ‘‘D’’ word just because the current incarnation of the sport doesn’t allow for
total domination. Just appreciate the Kings and Hawks for what they are — well-built, well-run and well-coached teams that aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

Twitter: @marklazerus



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