First Time Champs

firstThis week the St. Louis Blues and Toronto Raptors won their first championship titles in their franchise histories.  The Blues defeated the Boston Bruins in the National Hockey League (NHL) to win their first Stanley Cup.   It took the Blues 52 years to bring home the Cup to St. Louis.  The Toronto Raptors claimed their first National Basketball Association (NBA) title by defeating the Golden State Warriors.  Raptor fans didn’t have to wait as long as the Blues.  It only took them 24 years to bring it to Canada.

So what other franchises are still looking for their first title in each sport? (Number of seasons without a title).  Franchises with longest droughts in each sport are in BOLD.

Major League Baseball

  • Colorado Rockies (26)
  • Milwaukee Brewers (50)
  • San Diego Padres (50)
  • Seattle Mariners (42)
  • Tampa Bay Rays (21)
  • Texas Rangers (58)
  • Washington Nationals (50)

National Basketball Association

  • Brooklyn Nets (43)
  • Charlotte Hornets (29)
  • Denver Nuggets (43)
  • Indiana Pacers (43)
  • Los Angeles Clippers (49)
  • Memphis Grizzlies (24)
  • Minnesota Timberwolves (30)
  • New Orleans Pelicans (17)
  • Orlando Magic (30)
  • Phoenix Suns (51)
  • Utah Jazz (45)

National Football League

  • Atlanta Falcons (53)
  • Carolina Panthers (24)
  • Cincinnati Bengals (51)
  • Houston Texans (17)
  • Jacksonville Jaguars (24)

National Hockey League

  • Arizona Coyotes (39)
  • Buffalo Sabres (48)
  • Columbus Blue Jackets (18)
  • Florida Panthers (25)
  • Minnesota Wild (18)
  • Nashville Predators (20)
  • Ottawa Senators (26)
  • San Jose Sharks (27)
  • Vancouver Canucks (48)
  • Vegas Golden Knights (2)
  • Winnipeg Jets (19)

If you are a fan of the Texas Rangers, Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Falcons (ouch), Buffalo Sabres or Vancouver Canucks, I salute you.  It is difficult to always “wait for next season” but with Toronto and St. Louis winning this week, at least it gives you some hope that it is possible.

At this time in each league, the following teams look to be closer to winning their first titles based on their latest finishes:  Milwaukee Brewers (MLB), Denver Nuggets (NBA), Houston Texans (NFL) and San Jose Sharks (NHL).

There’s always next season.

 

 

Friday Flashback: 1970 Stanley Cup Final

stanleyIt has taken 49 years for this Stanley Cup rematch between the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues.  While Boston has had more recent success, winning the title in 2011 and losing in the final in 2013, the Blues have not returned until this season.

In the 1970 final, the Bruins swept the Blues in four games.

Boston, coached by Harry Sinden, finished the regular season in second place in the Eastern Division behind the Chicago Blackhawks but defeated the New York Rangers in six games and swept the Blackhawks in four games to get to the final.  The Blues, led by Scotty Bowman, finished first in the Western Division then dispatched the Minnesota Northstars and Pittsburgh Penguins in six games to make it to their third straight Stanley Cup final.  They had been swept by the Montreal Canadiens in the two previous finals.

The Bruins breezed through the first three games winning 6-1, 6-2 and 4-1.  The most competitive game of the series was the fourth game.  Larry Keenan scored 19 seconds into the third period on a power play goal to give the Blues a 3-2 lead.  The Bruins tied up the game with 7:32 left in regulation on a goal from Johnny Bucyk.   The game went into overtime but not very deep as Bobby Orr scored the game winner – and series winner – just 40 seconds in to complete the sweep.  It was his only goal in the cup final.  Orr was named the Most Valuable Player.

The image of Orr flying through the air, his arms raised in victory — who was tripped by Blues’ defenseman Noel Picard immediately after scoring the goal — is one of the most famous and recognized hockey images of all time.

Click here to watch Orr’s game winning goal.

orr

Since 1970, the Bruins have been in the Stanley Cup final nine times (1972, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1988, 1990, 2011, 2013, 2019).  The Blues have not been back until this season.

 

 

Friday Flashback: 1967-1968 St. Louis Blues

blues

This season the Vegas Golden Knights have reached the Stanley Cup Final in their first season.  Although there has been a lot made about their accomplishments as the National Hockey League’s latest expansion team, the 1967-1968 St. Louis Blues also made it to the Stanley Cup final in their first season.

The only caveat to this accomplishment was that the Blues were one of six expansion teams to added in the 1967-1968 season.  The Blues joined the Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and California Seals as the NHL expanded from six to 12 teams.  All of the six expansion teams were placed in the same division so any of the teams was guaranteed to make it to the final.

In their first NHL game, the Blues and Minnesota North Stars played to a 2-2 tie in St. Louis.  Larry Keenan scored the Blues’ first goal.  The Blues were originally coached by Lynn Patrick but Patrick resigned in November and was replaced by Scotty Bowman.

The Blues finished their first season with a record or 27-31-16 for third place in the West Division.  They finished the season 3-1-1 to get into the playoffs.  Gordon “Red” Berenson was the team’s leading scored with 22 goals in 55 games.

In the playoffs, the Blues knocked off the Philadelphia Flyers in seven games.  The Blues had a 3-1 lead in the series but the Flyers routed the Blues 6-1 in Game 5 then won Game 6 in double-overtime to force a seventh game.  In the seventh game, the Blues scored on Power Play goals from Frank St. Marseille and Keenan.  Berenson put the game away with a goal in the third for a 3-1 win.

In the semifinals,  the Blues defeated the Minnesota North Stars in seven games to advance to the Stanley Cup finals.  Ron Schock had the game winner 2:50 into overtime for the Blues.

Although the Blues were swept by the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup finals, all four games were decided by one goal while two of those games went into overtime.

  • May 5, 1968 – Montreal 3, St. Louis 2 (ot)
  • May 7, 1968 – Montreal 1, St. Louis 0
  • May 9, 1968 – Montreal 4, St.  Louis 3 (ot)
  • May 11, 1968 – Montreal 3, St. Louis 2

Nashville Predators’ television host, Terry Crisp (a.k.a. “Crispy”) was selected in the Blues’ expansion draft.

The Blues also made it to the Stanley Cup Finals the next two seasons but were swept by the Canadiens and Boston Bruins.  They have not been to the Stanley Cup finals since then.

 

 

 

Game Cinco Finisho?

preds-blues

The Nashville Predators are on the verge of doing something they have never done in franchise history.  With a win tonight, the Predators would advance to the final four of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Unfortunately, I really don’t see it happening tonight.  The St. Louis Blues are a pesky, scrappy bunch as evidence from their play in Game Four.  They won’t be put away easily – especially in front of their home fans.

I don’t expect the series to be closed out tonight.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this series to go to seven games.

Most series will have one game that is a blowout.  I think the blowout will occur in tonight’s game.  Look for the Blues players and fans to be fired up and take it to the Predators in tonight’s Game Five and send the series back to Nashville.

  • Game 1 – Nashville 4, St. Louis 3
  • Game 2 – St. Louis 3, Nashville 2
  • Game 3 – Nashville 3, St. Louis 1
  • Game 4 – Nashville 2, St. Louis 1
  • Game 5 – Tonight at St. Louis
  • Game 6 – Sunday at Nashville
  • Game 7 – Tuesday at St. Louis

Last season the Predators were eliminated by the San Jose Sharks, 4 games to 3 in the second round.  The Blues lost to the Sharks, 4 games to 2 in the Conference Finals.