Vulgar Statistics: The Best Franchise In NHL History
And by NHL History I obviously mean after the league expanded to 12 teams because no one gives a crap about pre-Civil Rights, 1 in 6 odds at a championship hockey. There are many ways to attempt to define success. You can go by number of championships, number of playoff victories, playoff winning percentage, number of postseasons made, overall winning percentage, points percentage, and if you really want, goal differential.
I decided to judge NHL teams against their peers using a percentile system. For those that don’t know, a percentile is a percentage of participants that you are better than. If you finish first, you are in the 100th percentile because you are better than everyone. If you finished, say, 11th in the 1981-1982 season, you are the 50th percentile. There were 21 teams in the league, which means 10 were better, and 10 were worse. Got it? Grand. Here’s the spreadsheet if you want to fiddle around with it.
|29||Minnesota North Stars||34.9%|
|30||Winnipeg Jets I||34.8%|
|31||Winnipeg Jets II||34.5%|
|38||Oakland/California Golden Seals||13.3%|
|40||Kansas City Scouts||6.0%|
Yes, Boston is the most successful NHL Franchise of the modern era, at least in terms of where they finish each season. Most of the names at the top of this list probably aren’t surprising. Dallas was one of the best teams in the league in the late 90s, as was Colorado. Boston, Montreal, and Philadelphia have always been good with few blips. Detroit’s recent run of success clashes with the Dead Wings era to bring them down a little bit…and there’s Buffalo, sitting in eighth.
Anyone that knows NHL history knows that despite not having won a Stanley Cup, the Sabres have been decent to good more often than they haven’t. Moreso, in fact, than some other teams that I think get thought of as more successful, namely the Rangers, Flames, and Penguins.
This chart is my favorite though, mostly because it has the New Jets just a hair below the Old Jets. Some things never change.
|13||Minnesota North Stars||35.9%|
|19||Oakland/California Golden Seals||11.0%|
|23||Kansas City Scouts||6.0%|
|24||Winnipeg Jets I||5.0%|
Again, not surprising to see those teams at the top. Montreal, Boston, and Philadelphia were great in those days, and Buffalo had the French Connection. What did surprise me was the relative success of the Atlanta Flames a franchise that, by nature of it no longer existing, is often thought of as a failure on the ice. Not the case. The short lived Kansas City Scouts finished second to last in both of their seasons (1974-1976), the Colorado Rockies peaked at 13th out of 18 teams in their tenure (1976-1982) and the Jets Part I finished 20th, second to last ahead of Colorado, in their inaugural season (1979-1980).
|13||Minnesota North Stars||42.5%|
|14||Winnipeg Jets I||42.5%|
Ah, the Oilers were good, and so were the Islanders until they tailed off, and some teams that some fans nowadays only know to be successful, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Vancouver, and New Jersey, sucked.
|25||Winnipeg Jets I||26.8%|
|27||Minnesota North Stars||23.3%|
I think Colorado gets a bit of an asterisk here as they only existed for half of the decade. Oh, and those “hard working” “gritty” Buffalo teams of the 90s? Pretty mediocre.
|25||Winnipeg Jets II||34.5%|