Saturday, May 24, 2008

Greatest Hockey Team Ever: Back to the future we go

Somehow it seems wrong that the first game of the Stanley Cup final has arrived without a mention here at Out of Left Field. The truth is, however, there are about 1,000 different blogs you can go to get crazy good Stanley Cup coverage. Start with Mirtle, and click away until your heart’s content.

But, those blogs come up short. They are choosing to limit themselves to the 2008 Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings. Where is all the talk of the ’81 Islanders and ’41 Bruins I ask you? Here at OOLF we think big. Why analysis one season when you can analysis them all? We don’t want to know who the best team in 2008 is. We want to know who the best team of all-time is.

So, mid-way through the second period of last night’s Memorial Cup semi-final (it was 7-0, I needed something to do) I devised a 128 team tournament (What, like you’ve never done it) to determine that very question. Every Stanley Cup champion from the NHL era, plus this year’s Red Wings and Pens, along with the runner-ups in the post-expansion era, were included (as were the 1993 Leafs, ‘cause I needed one extra team. And, I didn’t want Leafs fans complaining about Gretzky’s bloody stick). Using the wonderfully distracting technology over at What If Sports, I’ve played the tournament’s first three rounds (single elimination, played at a neutral site—Toronto’s ACC as it happens. It was an alphabetical thing).

Now, with the Sweet 16 ready to face-off, the Greatest Hockey Team Ever tournament is set to go live!

Your Sweet 16 match-ups. All best-of sevens (game seven at a neutral site):

Side A
2002-03 New Jersey Devils Vs. 1998-99 Dallas Stars
1986-87 Edmonton Oilers Vs. 1980-81 New York Islanders
1967-68 Montreal Canadiens Vs. 1957-58 Montreal Canadiens
1943-44 Montreal Canadiens Vs. 1919-20 Ottawa Senators

1998-99 Buffalo Sabers Vs. 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings
1985-86 Montreal Canadiens Vs. 1981-82 New York Islanders
1970-71 Chicago Blackhawks Vs. 1958-59 Montreal Canadiens
1940-41 Boston Bruins Vs. 2007-08 Pittsburgh Penguins

Yes, Ottawa fans you qualified one more team than the Leafs did (for the record, the famed ’67 Leafs were the only Toronto team to make it to the third round. One of the two non-Cup winning teams—the ’71 Hawks—defeated Tim Horton and the boys).

So, during this final you can read incredibly detailed (and somewhat obsessive) breakdowns of players' ice-time, or you can come here and cheer on your 1920 Sens. Seems like an easy choice to me!

Tomorrow morning the Devils and Stars will go at it….

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