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The 9 Longest Active Stanley Cup Droughts

by: Esteban On  Wednesday, April 16, 2014

stanley cup droughts

Tonight the NHL playoffs begin, and sixteen hockey teams will begin the quest for the game’s ultimate prize.

Who will survive the most grueling championship tournament in profession sports and hoist the Stanley Cup two months from now? That’s hard to say. The last six teams to win hockey’s Holy Grail are all in the playoffs this year—including last year’s finalists, the Bruins and Blackhawks—so we very well could be treated to more of the same.

However, it’s also quite possible that one of the NHL’s longest championship droughts will come to an end, and that one long-suffering fan base will finally be treated to a victory parade starring Lord Stanley’s silver chalice.

Today, in honor of the start of the real NHL season, we’re going to take a look at the longest active Stanley Cup droughts. Some of these teams aren’t in the playoffs, so their drought will continue no matter what. However, a few of them do have a chance to end the misery. To find out who that is, click on the arrows and take a look.


Dishonorable Mentions: The Never-Hoists

10 1991-92 San Jose Sharks - longest Stanley Cup droughts

Before we get started, let’s take a moment to pay our respects to the teams that have never won the cup, but have been around long enough yet to make the list. They are the Sharks (22 seasons), Senators (21 seasons), Panthers (20 seasons), Predators (16 seasons), Thrashers/Jets (15), Wild (13), and Blue Jackets (13).

Of these teams, at least the Senators and Panthers have reached the Stanley Cup Finals. The poor Sharks haven’t even come close—though all those Division Championship banners sure do look nice.


9. Calgary Flames: 25 Seasons

9 Calgary Flames Stanley Cup 1989 - longest Stanley Cup droughts

Founded: 1972

Last Stanley Cup: 1989

The Flames made a cinderella run to the Cup Finals as a No. 6 seed back in 2004 but lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Thus, the franchise’s Stanley Cup victory in 1989 remains their only Stanley Cup victory. And since they didn’t make the playoffs this year, the drought it now up to 25 seasons and counting.

Sorry, Calgary.

8. New York Islanders: 31 Seasons

8 New York Islanders Stanley Cup dynasty - longest Stanley Cup droughts

Founded: 1972

Last Stanley Cup: 1983

The Islanders won four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1980 to 1983 and made it back to the finals in 1985 only to lose to Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers. Since then they’ve gotten past the first round of the playoffs only twice while turning into the absolute worst franchise in the NHL.

They failed to qualify for the playoffs this year, and unless there’s a change in ownership this drought isn’t going to end any time soon.


7. Winnipeg Jets/Phoenix Coyotes: 34 Seasons

7 1979 Winnipeg Jets WHA champions - longest Stanley Cup droughts

Founded: 1979*

Last Stanley Cup: never

Before they were the desert dogs they were the original Winnipeg Jets, and before they joined the NHL in 1979 they had played in the WHA beginning in 1972.

In the WHA, led by Bobby Hull, the Jets were champions three times. However, since joining the NHL in 1979-80, the franchise doesn’t have a single Stanley Cup Finals appearance.

In fact, from 1988 to 2011 they didn’t even win a single playoff series


6. Philadelphia Flyers: 37 Seasons

6 Philadelphia Flyers 1975 Stanley Cup - longest Stanley Cup droughts

Founded: 1967

Last Stanley Cup: 1975

The Philadelphia Flyers were part of the NHL’s first expansion. In 1974 they became the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup, and in 1975 they won it again.

Since then, however, they’ve lost in the Finals six times, falling victims to the Canadiens, Islanders, Oilers, Red Wings, and Blackhawks. So they’ve also go that ignominious streak going for them. Which is nice.


5. Washington Capitals: 39 Seasons

5 Washington Capitals 1998 Stanley Cup Finals - longest Stanley Cup droughts

Founded: 1974

Last Stanley Cup: never

Few teams have disappointed their fans more over the years than the Washington Capitals. They’ve only missed the playoffs seven times over the past 31 years, which is pretty damned impressive. However, they’ve only made it past the second round twice in that span, and only once did they make it to the Stanley Cup Finals.

That was in 1998, and they got swept by the Red Wings.


4. Vancouver Canucks: 44 Seasons

4 Vancouver Canucks 2011 Stanley Cup Finals - longest Stanley Cup droughts

Founded: 1970*

Last Stanley Cup: never

The Canucks were a minor league team from 1945 to 1969, so it’s not really accurate to say they were “founded” in 1970. However, that is the year they entered the NHL, which means that’s also they year they started not winning the Stanley Cup every season.

They do have three Finals appearances, but of course that only makes it harder of their fans. After getting swept by the Islanders in 1982, they lost Game 7 to the Rangers in ’94 and Game 7 to the Bruins in ’11.

That last one started a riot, you may recall.


3. Buffalo Sabres: 44 Seasons

3 Buffalo Sabres 1999 Stanley Cup Finals - longest Stanley Cup droughts

Founded: 1970

Last Stanley Cup: never

There are two moments that define sports fandom in Buffalo. One is Scott Norwood’s kick wide right in Super Bowl XXV. The other is Brett Hull’s triple-overtime goal in Game 6 of the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals.

That goal won the Stanley Cup for Dallas, but, as every hockey fan in Buffalo will tell you, it should have been disallowed because his foot was obviously in the crease.  

If the goal had been disallowed, the Sabres might have a Stanley Cup banner handing in their barn. As it is, their drought stands

2. St. Louis Blues: 45 Season

2 Bobby Orr goal 1970 Stanley Cup Finals - longest Stanley Cup droughts

Founded: 1967

Last Stanley Cup: never

The St. Louis Blues were one of the original NHL expansion teams to join the league in 1967-68. However, wheres the Flyers, Penguins, Stars, and Kings have all won at least one Stanley Cup, the Blues have not.

That fact alone is bad enough. However, it gets worse—at least for Blues fans. The Blues haven’t even made the Finals since 1970, and even then they only made it because, at the time, the crappy expansion teams were in one conference while the Original Six were in the other. In reality, the Blues have never even come close to winning the cup.

Don’t get me wrong, they’ve had good teams. In 1980-81 they had 107 points and finished third in the NHL. In 1990-91 they had 105 points and finished second in the NHL. In 1999-2000 they had 114 points and won their first presidents trophy. And in 2011-12 they had 109 points and finished tied for second in the NHL.

However, in the last 42 seasons, the Blues have gotten past the second round of the playoffs just twice.

This year, of course, the Blues were fantastic once again, setting a franchise record with 52 wins. Will they finally end their fans’ misery?

Only time will tell.


1. Toronto Maple Leafs: 46 Seasons

1 Toronto Maple Leafs 1967 Stanley Cup - longest Stanley Cup droughts

Founded: 1917

Last Stanley Cup: 1967

If the Blues don’t win the Cup this year their drought will go to 46 years. However, at least they have a shot to end the suffering. The Toronto Maple Leafs—the richest team in the NHL—didn’t even make the playoffs this year. Again. So for now, they get the number one spot.

Poor Toronto.