Dynasties are an interesting topic within the context of NHL hockey history. It’s clear to many fans and historians that the Dynasties of old, are no longer. We no longer see teams win three or more cups in a row, dominating the NHL for extended periods of time in such a way. Still, they were once much more common and their level of dominance was a thing to behold. I made this list with the knowledge that most modern teams wouldn’t make it, but I do plan to make a shorter list of “Modern Dynasties” at some point. For the purposes of this list, a dynasty needed to have no gaps of more than one season between Cup victories. To give an example, the late 70s dynasty of the Canadiens doesn’t include the 1973 Cup victory in my list, as they didn’t win for two seasons after that.
See part 2 here: Top 10 NHL Dynasties (5-1)
10. Detroit Red Wings – 1996-1998
The Detroit Red Wings had been on the rise for several years before finally winning it all. After leading the NHL in the regular season for two straight seasons, but faltering in the playoffs, the Red Wings finished 5th in the 1996-97 season. The Red Wings lost just four games en route to the Stanley Cup, sweeping the Flyers in the finals. The Red Wings won the Cup for a second straight season the following year, taking six-games series’ all the way to the finals, where they again had a 4-0 sweep, this time of the Washington Capitals. Over both consecutive Cups, the Red Wings had an amazing 32-10 record in the playoffs.
- Steve Yzerman
- Brendan Shanahan
- Igor Larionov
- Nicklas Lidstrom
- Mike Vernon
- Chris Osgood
9. Ottawa Senators – 1919-1923
While the modern day version of the Senators have had some great seasons, they have never had the dynastic years the original Senators did. The Ottawa Senators were the first true dynasty in NHL history, beginning very early on in the NHL’s history. In just the NHL’s third season, the Ottawa Senators dominated with a 19-5 record, and went on to face the PCHA’s Seattle Metropolitans, beating them 3-2 in a best-of-five series, winning them the Stanley Cup. After finishing 2nd in the 1920-21 season, the Senators dominated the Toronto St. Pats in the NHL Playoffs before then besting the PCHA’s next champion, the Vancouver Millionaires in five games, in the same fashion as they beat the Metropolitans. Despite finishing first in the 1921-22 season, the Senators were beaten by the St. Pats in the NHL playoffs, breaking their streak of Cups. But the Senators would return strong in the 1922-23 season, again leading the NHL in points and this time just barely edging out the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL playoffs. The Senators would beat the WCHL’s Edmonton Eskimos by a 2-0 series score to win their third Stanley Cup in just four seasons.
8. Toronto Maple Leafs – 1944-1951
The Toronto Maple Leafs of the late 40s were the teams that could. While they rarely dominated in the regular season, they always seemed to step up their game when playoff time came. After becoming the surprise victors of the 1945 Stanley Cup, the Leafs actually missed the playoffs in the 1945-46 season, finishing in 5th. They returned to form in the 1946-47 season, finishing second and winning the Stanley Cup again. The Leafs would win another in 1948, with a very strong regular season. The 1948-49 season looked to be similar to the 1945-46 season, in which the Maple Leafs missed the playoffs after winning the Cup, but the Leafs barely squeaked into the playoffs at 4th place. After beating the Canadiens in a close 7-game series, the Leafs stunned the red-hot Red Wings in a 4-0 sweep in the Finals, becoming the first NHL team to win the Cup three years in a row.
The Leafs made the playoffs in the 1949-50 season, but failed to get past the Detroit Red Wings in the first round. In the 1950-51 season, the Leafs were a very strong team, the only ones close to the level of the Red Wings, finishing just behind them in the standings. After dominating the Bruins in round 1, the the Leafs faced the Canadiens, who had upset the Red Wings in the first round. The Leafs handled the Canadiens in five games, winning in overtime thanks to the famous goal by Bill Barilko. All in all, Toronto won five Cups in the space of seven seasons.
7. Montreal Canadiens – 1964-1973
The least well-known of Montreal dynasties, and also the longest, the Canadiens of the mid-60s to early 70s are perhaps often forgotten in the shadow of their other two dominant dynasties. Another plausible reason is that although this dynasty won many Cups, they never won more than twice in a row. After a slight surprise win in 1965, the Canadiens had a stronger season in 1965-66, leading the NHL in points and going 8-2 in the playoffs to win another Stanley Cup. The Maple Leafs famously beat the Canadiens in the 1967 playoffs despite the age of their players, but the late 60s and the expansion era was kind to the Canadiens. Because of the new format in the 1968 playoffs, the Canadiens had to first battle through all the established NHL teams, and then had an easy time sweeping the Blues in four straight games in the finals. In truth, the Canadiens didn’t struggle with anyone, going 12-1 in extremely dominant fashion.
The 1968-69 Canadiens were even more dominant in the regular season, reaching 103 points, in part due to the new 76-game format. After leading the NHL in the regular season, they went 12-2 in the playoffs, again sweeping the Blues in four games in the finals. Due to extremely high competition within their division, the Canadiens barely missed the playoffs in the 1969-70 season. They would return in the 1970-71 season and unlike their late 60s runs, make a tight run all the way to the Cup, beating the Black Hawks in a 7-game finals. Despite a good regular season in 1971-72, the Canadiens had to face the strong New York Rangers and lost in six games in the first round. The Canadiens finally burst out in full force in the 1972-73 season, tallying 120 points and finishing first in the NHL. They went 12-5 in the playoffs and won another Stanley Cup. Never missing out on a Cup for more than one consecutive year, the Canadiens won six Cups in nine years during the late 60s and early 70s dynasty, arguably the longest dynasty in NHL history.
- Yvan Cournoyer
- Henri Richard
- Jean Beliveau
- J.C. Tremblay
- Guy Lapointe
6. Toronto Maple Leafs – 1961-1964
The Maple Leafs of the early 60s were very much like the Maple Leafs of the late 40s, only just a bit better. The 1961-62 Leafs were a strong regular season team, finishing with a 37-22-11 record for 2nd in the NHL and then going 8-4 in the playoffs to take home their first Cup since 1951. The 1962-63 Leafs had less points during the season, but in an interesting twist, finished first in the NHL due to the high level of parity within the league. The Leafs, however, left no room for parity in the playoffs, going 8-2 in a strong display of power to win their second consecutive Cup. The 1963-64 Maple Leafs were definitely the weakest of the three teams during the dynasty, finishing third in the league and taking all 14 games to win the Stanley Cup, but they did so and won their third in a row.