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10-01-2003, 12:28 PM
  #33
discostu
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There's two aspects to this question:

1) When evaluating the accomplishments of the past 10 years or so, how does Dallas rate?

With that question, they should definitely be mentioned with the likes of Colorado, Detroit and New Jersey. Those four are the only ones who have consistently achieved a high level of playoff succes, including the ultimate prize. Dallas however, is definitely the team pulling up the rear on that list. Reason one, they have only won one cup, while the others have multiples. The second is their failure to not make the playoffs a couple of years ago. New Jersey didn't make it after their first cup run, but have done it ever since, and the other guys have been consistent in showing up for the dance every year.

After Dallas, it's a pretty big leap until the next guy. Success of other teams are inconsistent at best. You have teams like Philly, Ottawa and St. Louis, who've had a lot of regular season success, but only one or two limited runs. You've got teams like Toronto, that have won a few playoff series here and there, but nothing tremendous. You've got a lot of one-year wonder teams, like Washington, Buffalo, Anaheim, Carolina, etc. Dallas' success is much greater than any of these, therefore, they have to be included with the guys above them.

2) Since they are among the elite group of teams in the past 10 years, are they automatically among the top 4 contenders?

I hate this line of thinking. These teams have accomplished a lot, but to be considered a contender, you have to win games with your roster today, not get a free pass based on previous success. Last year's season means nothing.

This is not to say that experience is useless. On the contrary. Every playoff battle is a badge of honour for the players that fight them, and gives them an extra edge for their next battle. These four teams have been great at maintaining their teams, but they only get ranked near the top for me if they can convince me that they have the toughest teams out there. Right now, Dallas is among them. So are the rest of the four, however I think Ottawa is just as much of a contender by having enough talent on their team to overcome the edge they give up in cup rings.

I also believe that this may be the last year we talk about the big four. After this season, these teams will need to do some dismantling. Many of the older guys (Yzerman, Stevens, etc.) are going to contemplate retiring rather than deal with the hassles and stress of waiting out a lockout. Some of the bigger contracts won't be renewed by these teams (Kariya, Selanne, etc.), or will move contracts in the anticipation of some sort of cost control measure under the CBA. These teams will need to go into some sort of re-building mode, however, how drastic depends on how well the team is stocked with younger replacements.

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