The Pittsburgh Penguins have won back-to-back Stanley Cups. The Golden State Warriors have won 2 of the past 3 NBA Finals. Both should be lauded and applauded. Which team has earned your respect more?
How does one compare champions in one sport to the champions of another sport especially sports as different as the NHL or NBA?
It starts with dumbing yourself down to the basic principle of all sports - individuals competing as teams to defeat another group of individuals trying to work together as a team. Understand that positioning yourself in front of the crease trying to tip a puck is just as brutal as stepping into the key in preparation of getting a rebound. We will focus on some of the bigger undeniable differences as we progress through the article.
Rarity of Repeat Champions
The Pittsburgh Penguins are the first back-to-back champions the NHL has seen since the Detroit Red Wings turned the deed in 1996-97 and 1997-98. Prior to that, the Penguins had back-to-back in 1990-91 and 1991-92 which effectively ended the “dynasty” era of the NHL. Long gone are the days of the Edmonton Oilers winning five cups in seven years, with all due respect to the Chicago Blackhawks three cups in six years and Los Angeles Kings two cups in three years. We may never see four time champions like the New York Islanders of the early 80â€™s or the Montreal Canadiens of the late 70â€™s.
The Golden State Warriors have won two of the past three NBA Finals. The last team to actually repeat as champions were the 2012 and 2013 Miami Heat. The Lakers were repeat champions in 2009 and 2010 and three-peat champions from 200-2002. Of course you cannot say rarity without thinking of the Chicago Bulls winning 6 of 8 NBA Finals between 1991 and 1998. The 80â€™s were filled with the Lakers and Celtics handing the championship back and forth to each other with only the 1987 and 1988 Lakers doing it back-to-back. The 1970â€™s did not see back-to-back champions.
Money, Money, Money
The Edmonton Oilers signing Connor McDavid to 8-year, $100M contracts is proverbial peanuts to the 4-year, $228M contract extension signed by James Harden. So, as you would expect, free agency in the NBA tends to be more exciting than free agency in the NHL.
According to leftwinglock.com, six NHL teams are above the salary cap and only ten teams as currently constructed could dole out “McDavid” money while staying under the cap. As our staff writer Spencer Love says in a very captain obvious tone: “Tougher league to win in when you canâ€™t just sign the best player available”.
This NBA off-season has been without much doubt more exciting than the past NBA season and playoffs. Ever since LeBron James and Chris Bosh used their trip to free agency to band together with Dwyane Wade in Miami the term “superteam” is now in the everyday language of fans. Of course the definition of the term superteam is still a little bit up for debate as the following conversation will outline:
Len: I disagree with you Spencer on your GSW not being a super team as their first championship had free agent signing Andre Iguodala win Finals MVP
Spencer: But he was also a guy who was the 6th man at the time. He started three (four?) games to neutralize LeBron, but was still coming off the bench for the regular season and most of the playoffsKail: When you sign up an MVP and 4 time scoring champ, that classifies as a super teamÂSpencer: See Kail, hereâ€™s where we differ. If for whatever reason, KD signed with say Charlotte or an equally bad team as opposed to GSW, you wouldnâ€™t say their a super team.So just because he signed with a team that had an established roster, itâ€™s different?! A super team, to me, is a team like the Heat or Celtics - bringing everyone in from outside. GSW brought in KD.Kail: He signed with a team that already had a 2-time MVP. And a DPOY. And a finals MVP. And a multiple all-star.Spencer: Right…but did any of those players come from outside of the Golden State organization, or were they built through the draft? Outside of their sixth man that season, they were all drafted by the Warriors.Kail: I didnâ€™t consider them a superteam until KD signedSpencer: Meh. I donâ€™t think that one free agent signing makes a superteam. To me, a super team is built outside of ones organization - free agency and trades. If you can draft a team as good as the warriors - all the power to you.Kail: But two signings does…
Parity/Mediocrity of League
The Chicago Blackhawks are the first No. 1 seed in the history of the NHL or NBA to be swept in the first round by a No. 8 seed. The last NHL No. 1 seed to lose in the first round was the 2012 Vancouver Canucks, while the last NBA No. 1 seed to lose was the 2007 Dallas Mavericks.
All Hail The…