Canada's Hockey Experience

The dynasty days

The National Hockey League has its own list of names that will be forever immortalized. Besides the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 1960s dynasty, we can identify eight other periods in time when one team ruled.

The first franchise to be called a dynasty was Ottawa Senators from 1919–20 to 1926–27.

Winning the first Stanley Cup after the influenza outbreak that cancelled Montreal’s chances in 1919, the Senators took three games to two over Seattle Metropolitans of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association.

Coach Pete Green won two more Cups against Vancouver Millionaires in 1921 and Edmonton Eskimos in 1923.

One more title would arrive after legendary players King Clancy and Jack Adams would depart along with Green.

In 1927, Ottawa was the first solely NHL champion, buoyed by the playing ability of Cy Denneny (on all four teams). They beat Boston Bruins with two wins and two ties. Dave Gill was the coach.

There wouldn’t be another dynasty for 20 years, and this time it would be the Leafs to take the honours. In 1947, coached by Hap Day, they beat Dick Irvin’s Montreal Canadiens four games to two.

Three more Cups would come to the Toronto roster featuring greats Ted Kennedy, Syl Apps and Max Bentley. In 1948 and ’49 the Leafs would meet Detroit Red Wings and beat them in four straight games in both series. The fourth title in 1951 would come against Montreal in five games and would be won on one of the most memorable goals in Leafs history: by Bill Barilko.

The 1950s, although forgettable for Leafs Nation, were fruitful for Detroit and Montreal.

The Red Wings, led by greats Gordie Howe, Terry Sawchuk and Ted Lindsay, would win four Cups in six years: 1950, ’52, ’54 and ’55.

Fast on their skates was Montreal. Toe Blake led his Habs as bench boss to five consecutive titles. Among his arsenal were Jean Beliveau, Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion, Doug Harvey, Maurice “Rocket” Richard, Dickie Moore, Jacques Plante and Henri “Pocket Rocket” Richard.

During that period of time, 1956 to 1960, Plante was the first goalie to wear a mask.

The last two years of the Habs’ first dynasty saw the rise of the Maple Leafs’ second dynasty.

Coach Punch Imlach led the Leafs back from the brink, meeting Montreal in the Cup finals in 1959 and 1960. However their first win would be in 1962 as Toronto beat Chicago Black Hawks four games to two. The next two years Toronto held onto their reign beating Detroit in five and seven games.

The Maple Leafs’ last Cup came in 1967 on Jim Pappin’s winning goal in game six of their series against Montreal.

During Toronto’s time in the Klieg lights, Montreal’s second rising took hold.

From 1964-65 to 1968-69, Montreal controlled hardware during the last days of the Original Six and the beginning of the great expansion. Four Cups in five years came against Chicago, Detroit, and in ’68 and ’69 St. Louis Blues.

Not to shy away from NHL dominance, Montreal returned with a new cast of legends. Coached by Scotty Bowman, the Habs won four straight Cups, including two against Boston and coach Don Cherry. Among the standouts were Yvon “the Roadrunner” Cournoyer, Ken Dryden, Bob Gainey, Guy LaFleur, Guy LaPointe, Jacques Lemaire, Larry Robinson, Serge Savard and Steve Shutt.

After the Canadiens lost Dryden, Lemaire and Cournoyer to retirement and Bowman moved to Buffalo Sabres to coach and manage, the New York Islanders were next to control the NHL.

The Long Island squad, helmed by Al Arbour, claimed four consecutive Stanley Cups.

Among that roster were Mike Bossy, Clark Gillies, Denis Potvin, Billy Smith and Bryan Trottier.

After the orange and blue released their hold on the NHL, another team of like colours would grease the wheels on their own dynasty.

Led by Wayne Gretzky — the regaled #99, known as “the Great One” — the Edmonton Oilers claimed five titles over seven years. For four of them, Glen Sather coached, while in 1990, sans Wayne Gretzky, John Muckler was the bench boss.

Albertan legends of that era, besides Gretzky, were Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr, Kevin Lowe, Jari Kurri and Glenn Anderson.

Arguably Detroit of the late 1990s could be considered a dynasty, but in recent years with consistent player movement and the introduction of a salary cap, the word “dynasty” has become a thing of the past.

Sponsored by The Canadian Experience and Maple Leaf Sports + Entertainment, “Canada’s Hockey Experience: The Sport of a Country” is a unique, 20-week online series on the history of hockey.

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