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The 'Finalist Curse' from the mid-90's

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09-20-2013, 09:29 PM
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darkhorse686
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The 'Finalist Curse' from the mid-90's

I was reflecting on this trend that began in with 1994 LA Kings and became a pretty common occurrence for the next 10 years or so where the Stanley Cup finalist (or in couple instances champion) would go into a nosedive the following season. Here are the teams in case you were wondering:

1994 LA Kings- runner-up in '93, out of the playoffs one year later, bad record to boot
1995 NY Rangers- champions in '94, narrowly make the playoffs in '95
1996 NJ Devils- champions in '95, missed the playoffs (albeit barely) in '96
1999 Washington Capitals- finalists in '98, no playoffs in '99, again poor regular season record
2000 Buffalo Sabres- finalists in '99, barely make the playoffs in 2000
2003 Carolina Hurricanes- '02 finalists, bottom (or close) of the league in '03
2004 Anaheim Ducks- '03 finalist, basement finish in '04

Any thoughts on why this kind of thing started occurring? I don't think it had ever happened before.

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09-21-2013, 12:49 PM
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tony d
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Hard to say, maybe the parity in the league or the fact that these teams had the dreaded Stanley Cup hangover.

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09-21-2013, 12:57 PM
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jkrx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkhorse686 View Post
I was reflecting on this trend that began in with 1994 LA Kings and became a pretty common occurrence for the next 10 years or so where the Stanley Cup finalist (or in couple instances champion) would go into a nosedive the following season. Here are the teams in case you were wondering:

1994 LA Kings- runner-up in '93, out of the playoffs one year later, bad record to boot
1995 NY Rangers- champions in '94, narrowly make the playoffs in '95
1996 NJ Devils- champions in '95, missed the playoffs (albeit barely) in '96
1999 Washington Capitals- finalists in '98, no playoffs in '99, again poor regular season record
2000 Buffalo Sabres- finalists in '99, barely make the playoffs in 2000
2003 Carolina Hurricanes- '02 finalists, bottom (or close) of the league in '03
2004 Anaheim Ducks- '03 finalist, basement finish in '04

Any thoughts on why this kind of thing started occurring? I don't think it had ever happened before.
Most of these teams were cinderella teams and they usually don't surprise twice. You forgot N. Stars in '91 and Panthers in '96.

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09-21-2013, 01:04 PM
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vadim sharifijanov
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man carolina sure picked the right year to bottom out

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09-21-2013, 02:04 PM
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leeaf83
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkhorse686 View Post
I was reflecting on this trend that began in with 1994 LA Kings and became a pretty common occurrence for the next 10 years or so where the Stanley Cup finalist (or in couple instances champion) would go into a nosedive the following season. Here are the teams in case you were wondering:

1994 LA Kings- runner-up in '93, out of the playoffs one year later, bad record to boot
1995 NY Rangers- champions in '94, narrowly make the playoffs in '95
1996 NJ Devils- champions in '95, missed the playoffs (albeit barely) in '96
1999 Washington Capitals- finalists in '98, no playoffs in '99, again poor regular season record
2000 Buffalo Sabres- finalists in '99, barely make the playoffs in 2000
2003 Carolina Hurricanes- '02 finalists, bottom (or close) of the league in '03
2004 Anaheim Ducks- '03 finalist, basement finish in '04

Any thoughts on why this kind of thing started occurring? I don't think it had ever happened before.
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Originally Posted by jkrx View Post
Most of these teams were cinderella teams and they usually don't surprise twice. You forgot N. Stars in '91 and Panthers in '96.
^this. To dissect each teams run to the final;

1994 LA Kings- the 93 playoffs was year of the upset. Melrose may have been the worst coach to lead a team to the finals in recent memory.
1995 NY Rangers- they did miss the playoffs the year before winning the cup and head coach Mike Keenan left
1996 NJ Devils- until the Kings, they were the only team to win a cup without having a top 4 seed under that format. They dropped from 5th to 9th in the regular season
1999 Washington Capitals- 98 was another year with a slew of upsets in the east, they beat the 8th seeded Sens in the 2nd round and 6th seeded sabres in the 3rd.
2000 Buffalo Sabres- yet another year full of upsets, they were the 7th seed.
2003 Carolina Hurricanes- yes the east had another gigantic upset year; they got the 8th seeded habs in the 2nd round and a heavily injured leafs team in the 3rd round.
2004 Anaheim Ducks- this year it was a heavy upset year in the west. Also they rode Giguere for the playoffs. They also had Mike Babcock; a heavily prepared coach who makes more of a difference in the playoffs than the season. They did miss the playoffs a season before and were the 7th seed this year.

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09-21-2013, 06:06 PM
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LeBlondeDemon10
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You could include Pittsburgh of 1993. Having won the cup in 92 and then choking in the first round to an underrated but inferior Islanders team. The 93 Pens won the President's trophy and were heavily favoured to win the SC.

Theoretically, I think that expansion spread the talent in the league thin leading to defensive minded clubs and DPE type checking (tackling) snuffing out offense first oriented clubs. Also, the introduction of more Russians and Europeans changed the style played in the NHL. There was also more parity despite poor starts by some expansion teams. I think this as a result of nearly 20 years of dynasty teams dominating the NHL. During the dynasty years, astute hockey minds were rather concentrated in a few markets; these teams often preyed on the expansion teams not just in games but through trades and the draft. This came to an end when a newer generation of hockey minds was spread more evenly throughout the NHL leading to more parity.

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09-21-2013, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by LeBlondeDemon10 View Post
You could include Pittsburgh of 1993. Having won the cup in 92 and then choking in the first round to an underrated but inferior Islanders team. The 93 Pens won the President's trophy and were heavily favoured to win the SC.

Theoretically, I think that expansion spread the talent in the league thin leading to defensive minded clubs and DPE type checking (tackling) snuffing out offense first oriented clubs. Also, the introduction of more Russians and Europeans changed the style played in the NHL. There was also more parity despite poor starts by some expansion teams. I think this as a result of nearly 20 years of dynasty teams dominating the NHL. During the dynasty years, astute hockey minds were rather concentrated in a few markets; these teams often preyed on the expansion teams not just in games but through trades and the draft. This came to an end when a newer generation of hockey minds was spread more evenly throughout the NHL leading to more parity.
Valid point here. It should be noted here that 1990 basically marked the end of the dynasty era; The 90's and 00's are the only decades no team won more than two cups. The powerhouse teams weren't as strong as the 80's Islanders and Oilers, 70's Habs, 60's Leafs, 50's Habs etc. It's a lot harder for a team to fluke their way through with a perennial powerhouse. It took a massive fluke against a strong Flames teams to prevent the oilers from making 6 straight finals in the 80's.

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09-22-2013, 12:41 AM
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You also have to remember, that in the 1990s a mediocre team could once in a while beat a team that had so much more talent than them it wasn't even funny. This was the clutch and grab era where teams like the 1996 Panthers could cross their fingers, pray for superb goaltending and hope that the opposing goalie just wasn't having a good night. Teams like that, have a poor shelf life, and they all did.

I can still never understand the Kings to this day in 1994. Sure 1993 was a bit of a miracle run, but it isn't as if the Kings were a poor team even in 1993. Why they bottomed out in 1994 is beyond me. They were 6th in goals scored, and 24th in goals against. Kelly Hrudey wasn't a good goalie by then, so that explains some of it, but a team with Gretzky, Robitaille, Kurri and Blake (all HHOFers, or Blake will eventually) as their top 4 scorers should have at least been a playoff team in my opinion. It is still weird as to why that team did so poorly.

But the rest? I can see why. The 1998 Caps weren't a great team. They beat Boston in the first round thanks in large part to an overtime goal the Bruins had called back. 1998 was the year of the upset too. New Jersey, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh all got knocked out in the first round. This left Washington with an easier path to the final. Bottom line is, someone had to be fed to Detroit that year.

Buffalo lost Hasek most of the year in 2000, which explains their record. Carolina was just in a crappy division and ran into a Toronto team probably looking ahead to the final. Anaheim was a Cinderella team in 2003.

There have been better eras in hockey than this. Which makes you appreciate the Piitsburgh/Detroit or Boston/Chicago recent Cup finals.

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09-22-2013, 01:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
You also have to remember, that in the 1990s a mediocre team could once in a while beat a team that had so much more talent than them it wasn't even funny. This was the clutch and grab era where teams like the 1996 Panthers could cross their fingers, pray for superb goaltending and hope that the opposing goalie just wasn't having a good night. Teams like that, have a poor shelf life, and they all did.

I can still never understand the Kings to this day in 1994. Sure 1993 was a bit of a miracle run, but it isn't as if the Kings were a poor team even in 1993. Why they bottomed out in 1994 is beyond me. They were 6th in goals scored, and 24th in goals against. Kelly Hrudey wasn't a good goalie by then, so that explains some of it, but a team with Gretzky, Robitaille, Kurri and Blake (all HHOFers, or Blake will eventually) as their top 4 scorers should have at least been a playoff team in my opinion. It is still weird as to why that team did so poorly.

But the rest? I can see why. The 1998 Caps weren't a great team. They beat Boston in the first round thanks in large part to an overtime goal the Bruins had called back. 1998 was the year of the upset too. New Jersey, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh all got knocked out in the first round. This left Washington with an easier path to the final. Bottom line is, someone had to be fed to Detroit that year.

Buffalo lost Hasek most of the year in 2000, which explains their record. Carolina was just in a crappy division and ran into a Toronto team probably looking ahead to the final. Anaheim was a Cinderella team in 2003.

There have been better eras in hockey than this. Which makes you appreciate the Piitsburgh/Detroit or Boston/Chicago recent Cup finals.

Poor coaching for one thing is what hurt the Kings in 1994. The San Jose sharks and Dallas stars got quite a bit better from 1993 so that displaced the Jets and Kings.

In the last 20 years, good team could catch lightning in a bottle and go on a hot/lucky streak which could be good enough to get them to the finals. A lot of teams which made the finals in that time wouldn't have made it in the 70's in the 80s because you needed more than just good fortune to get through the Habs, Isles, and Oilers dynasties hence why there were no one year wonders. In the 80's, only 3 teams made the finals once and only once; Vancouver, Minnesota and Boston, and the bruins did make the finals in 1990 again so they weren't exactly a fluke or one year wonder. In the 70's the only teams to make the finals were the Sabres and Blues (and the blues also made it in 68 and 89)

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