It’s the rallying cry of Stanley Cup Runner Ups every year. “It’s okay, we’ll be right back here next year!” While it’s a comforting thought for a fanbase who just had their heart broken, it’s not always accurate. Looking back to 1968, when the league expanded past 6 teams, Stanley Cup Runner Ups have had a mixed performance in the following year.
Note: “Best Year Following” only refers to teams that have not made the Stanley Cup after their last loss in the Final.
|Year||Team||Next Year Result||Next FinaApperance||Won?||Best Year Following||Finish|
|2016||Sharks||Lost 1st Round||N/A||N/A||2017||Lost 1st Round|
|2015||Lightning||Lost ECF||N/A||N/A||2016||Lost ECF|
|2014||Rangers||Lost ECF||N/A||N/A||2015||Lost ECF|
|2013||Bruins||Lost 2nd Round||N/A||N/A||2014||Lost 2nd Round|
|2012||Devils||Missed Playoffs||N/A||N/A||2014||6th in Metro|
|2011||Canucks||Lost 1st Round||N/A||N/A||2012||Lost 1st Round|
|2010||Flyers||Lost 2nd Round||N/A||N/A||2011||Lost 2nd Round|
|2009||Red Wings||Lost 2nd Round||N/A||N/A||2011||Lost 2nd Round|
|2008||Penguins||Won Stanley Cup||2009||Yes|
|2007||Senators||Lost 1st Round||N/A||N/A||2017||Lost ECF|
|2006||Oilers||Missed Playoffs||N/A||N/A||2017||Lost 2nd Round|
|2004||Flames||Lost 1st Round||N/A||N/A||2015||Lost 2nd Round|
|2001||Devils||Lost 1st Round||2003||Yes|
|2000||Stars||Lost 2nd Round||N/A||N/A||2008||Lost WCF|
|1999||Sabres||Lost 1st Round||N/A||N/A||2007||Lost ECF|
|1998||Capitals||Missed Playoffs||N/A||N/A||2016||Lost 2nd Round|
|1997||Flyers||Lost 1st Round||2010||No|
|1996||Panthers||Lost 1st Round||N/A||N/A||2016||Lost 1st Round|
|1995||Red Wings||Lost WCF||1997||Yes|
|1994||Canucks||Lost 2nd Round||2011||No|
|1992||Blackhawks||Lost 1st Round||2010||Yes|
|1991||North Stars||Lost 1st Round||1999||Yes|
|1989||Canadiens||Lost 2nd Round||1993||Yes|
|1988||Bruins||Lost 2nd Round||1990||No|
|1987||Flyers||Lost 1st Round||1997||No|
|1986||Flames||Lost 1st Round||1989||Yes|
|1985||Flyers||Lost 1st Round||1987||No|
|1984||Islanders||Lost 2nd Round||N/A||N/A||1993||Lost ECF|
|1983||Oilers||Won Stanley Cup||1984||Yes|
|1982||Canucks||Lost 1st Round||1994||No|
|1981||North Stars||Lost 1st Round||1991||No|
|1980||Flyers||Lost 2nd Round||1985||No|
|1979||Rangers||Lost 2nd Round||1994||Yes|
|1978||Bruins||Lost Semi Finals||1988||No|
|1977||Bruins||Lost Stanley Cup||1978||No|
|1976||Flyers||Lost Semi Finals||1980||No|
|1975||Sabres||Lost 2nd Round||1999||No|
|1974||Bruins||Lost 1st Round||1977||No|
|1973||Blackhawks||Lost Semi Finals||1992||No|
|1972||Rangers||Lost Semi Finals||1979||No|
|1971||Blackhawks||Lost Semi Finals||1973||No|
|1970||Blues||Lost 1st Round||N/A||N/A||2016||Lost WCF|
|1969||Blues||Lost Stanley Cup||1970||No|
|1968||Blues||Lost Stanley Cup||1969||No|
A few interesting observations came from this.
- Only the 1983 Oilers and the 2008 Penguins were able to overcome a Stanley Cup loss and return to win the Cup the following year. Coincidentally, both of these teams beat the team that they had lost to the previous year (Oilers d. Islanders and Penguins d. Red Wings).
- Of the 48 SCF Runner-Ups listed, only 13 teams won the Stanley Cup in the next appearance. Only 8 teams were able to win a Cup within 5 years of their SCF loss.
- 17 franchises are still waiting for their return to the Final and chance at redemption.
- The Bruins and Flyers appear on this list the most with 6 SCF losses. The Bruins did win a Cup in 2011, while the Flyers have lost 6 SCF in a row.
- Only teams not to appear on this list are the Maple Leafs, Coyotes, Jets, Blue Jackets, Wild, and Avalanche. The Leafs have not appeared in a Final since 1967, the Avalanche are the only team never to have lost a Stanley Cup Final, and the Coyotes, Jets, Blue Jackets, and Wild have never appeared in the Final
So what can be concluded from this? Well, not a whole lot. For some teams, a loss in the Stanley Cup Final is the motivation they needed to come out and win the Cup the next year. For others, the loss represented their only shot at a championship. A Stanley Cup Final appearance is never guaranteed. The only constant among these teams is that they all experienced a heart-breaking loss.
So will Nashville be able to return the the Final in 2018? Maybe they will or maybe they won’t. The only thing that is certain is that nothing is guaranteed.