We’re in the dead zone of the NHL, with the hype dying in perfect synch with the start of the NFL season. There’s not much to report on, as we can only look into the future and predict what’s ahead.
However, a timeless discussion in all sports is the all-time great debate. Whether that be players, franchises, or even playoff moments, there’s always something to discuss during the offseason of the NHL.
Before getting into the players themselves, starting with NHL franchises makes the most sense. More simple, more history, and more definitive answers.
The National Hockey League has birthed some of the best hockey programs in the world with some of the best fans. With possibly the most national diversity and best prospect talent, some of these franchises have taken the lead as a top 5 team ever.
5. Chicago Blackhawks
Although their all-time point % isn’t very good at 0.5%, their playoff success is undeniable. Their 61 playoff appearances put them at exactly 5th all-time, and they’ve made a respectable 13 finals appearances.
They’ve won 6 championships total and 3 since 2010, solidifying themselves as one of the best franchises of the decade. If we made this list 15 years ago, the Blackhawks wouldn’t be on this list.
4. Boston Bruins
A team that I had difficulty putting over the Blackhawks, what really won me over was the number of finals appearances and the all-time P% (0.56%) placing them 3rd all time. Although they have the same amount of Stanley Cup wins, they’ve appeared at the biggest stage 6 more times.
Although they have a lower finals win percentage, getting to the cup game is more difficult than let on. Although their success was compiled in their earlier years, they have made consistent playoff pushes and found regular season success in many years of play.
3. Toronto Maple Leafs
I want to put this team below the Bruins, or even the Blackhawks. I really, really do. However, despite their lack of recent finals success, this is a list of the all-time franchises, not the last 20 years.
The Maple Leaves won their last Stanley Cup in 1967, but they have 13 wins, more than double the teams behind them. Their 1940s and 1960s were some of the most dominant decades of hockey in history, and should not be forgotten as time passes.
2. Detroit Red Wings
I’m much more comfortable about my positioning of the Red Wings on this list. They have maintained consistency over the years, and although they haven’t won a ring in over 10 years, they aren’t stuck in the 60s like the Maple Leafs.
Their 3 championships from 1998-2008 were their most recent span of success, but they’ve accumulated 11 Stanley Cups and 24 appearances since their conception. Although the 2000s were smothered in playoff showings, the last couple of years has been a bit bleak. However, from 1991 to 2016, they made the playoffs every year. The last 6 years don’t change their dominance.
1. Montreal Canadiens
Undoubtedly the best team in NHL history, they lead the league in many of our key categories. An astounding 24 cup wins with 34 appearances, 82 playoff outings, and No. 1 in all-time P% (0.59%).
From 1950-1980, the Canadiens were the most dominant franchise in sports. 16 championships in 26 years is an absurd amount of long-term success for one franchise. They are clearly the best NHL team of all time, and there’s almost no debate.