It’s natural when a team in this era wins its second Stanley Cup in three years that the question immediately becomes about the franchise’s place in history.
It happened last spring when the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Boston Bruins to become the first team to win two Stanley Cups in the salary cap era. It happened again this year when the Los Angeles Kings won their second Cup in three years.
It’s hard to identify a dynasty in the moment -- that’s a debate that clears up with time -- but both the Kings and Blackhawks are headed down that path.
The more immediate question that can be answered sooner is this: Which team is better set to contend right now, and into the future?
If you offered up the rosters of the Kings and Blackhawks to every general manager in the league and asked them to pick just one, it would likely be split based on personal preference. During last week’s general managers meeting in New York, the talk was still about just how compelling a Western Conference final the Blackhawks and Kings produced.
“It was really good hockey. Everyone I talked to here said it was one of the best series they've seen in a long time,” Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said when we chatted after the meetings. “Two very good teams, something had to give. It went overtime in Game 7. If we played 15 games, it probably would have been eight wins for one, seven for the other. There’s not a huge difference between the two.”
First of all, let’s get it on the record that we'd be very much in favor of a 15-game series between these two powerhouses when they meet again. And they will meet again.
So which franchise would you rather have if you got to pick just one? Let’s break it down.
Chicago: Considering all they've accomplished, it’s absolutely amazing that Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are still just 25 and 26 years old, respectively. Put it this way -- Kane is just two years older than Calder Trophy finalist Tyler Johnson. No wonder teams were trying to get out of the West so badly during realignment.