The Tampa Bay Lightning is trying to win Stanley Cups. How difficult is it?

Winning a championship is the pinnacle for a professional sports team. Repetition the following year is a rarity. But the exchanges ar...


Winning a championship is the pinnacle for a professional sports team. Repetition the following year is a rarity. But the exchanges are made and the players retire. Injuries happen, and so do upsets. The postseason game is a grueling glove to run, and it just keeps growing. Winning a third straight title is one of the toughest feats in team sports, and it seems to be getting harder and harder.

The Tampa Bay Lightning take to the ice Wednesday night looking to win a third consecutive Stanley Cup. It has been 20 years since a team has won three consecutive championships in a major professional sport in North America.

When a team, like the Lightning, manages to win two championships in a row, how historically difficult is it to get the third?

Rehearsals: 17 since 1927, including the Lightning.

three shots: Five, with two series of titles extending to four in a row and one, the Montreal Canadiens from 1956 to 1960, to five in a row. The two-time league champions have a 31% success rate next season.

It turns out that 31% is pretty close to the baseline for most leagues, with one exception.

Most recent: The 1981-82 Islanders, a string that reached four the following season. “At the start of the year, people thought the Islanders would win,” said Roger Neilson, coach of the Vancouver Canucks, who were a losing Cup finalist in 1982. “Halfway through the season, people said that “They would, and leading in the playoffs, people thought they would win. It takes a real team to overcome that kind of pressure.

As for the chance of another hat-trick 40 years later: “When you grow up in Canada, you always dream of having your name on the Stanley Cup,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “And to get there the first time was a dream come true. Getting there a second time the following year was like a dream, as if we weren’t going back. And going there a third time is unthinkable.

Starting in the mid-1970s, the Islanders were one of the best teams in the NHL, but the Stanley Cup consistently eluded them. The most disappointing years of the decade came in 1978 and 1979, when they finished with the most points in their conference during the regular season but failed to reach the Finals.

So in 1980, when the Islanders won the Stanley Cup in six games against the Philadelphia Flyers, a burden the size of a gorilla was lifted from the players’ backs.

“There was a lot of pressure on the guys, and it was a great job,” said Butch Goring, an Islanders center from 1980 to 1985, “but we finally got it, and there was a huge relief in the whole organization.”

After that first title, Goring said, winning was “relatively easy” for the Islanders, and the stats back it up. The Islanders set a playoff record that still stands in North American professional sports, with 19 straight playoff wins from 1980-1984.

“In Cup two we never sweated,” Goring said. “Yes, we had to play, we didn’t just throw our sticks on the ice, but we were able to play at our level because we understood. We knew exactly what we had to do, and the pressure was off a bit, so we knew what we had to do.

And for the third championship, Goring said the feeling was the same: “We felt for those first three years that if we did our best, you couldn’t beat us.”

Rehearsals: 13 since 1947.

three shots: Five, with the 1966 Celtics completing an unfathomable eight in a row. A success rate of 38%. The term “threepeat” was coined in 1988 by Pat Riley, now Miami Heat team president. Riley, the Lakers coach at the time, had won back-to-back titles, but his team ultimately failed to earn him royalties with a third title in 1989.

Most recent: The 2002 Lakerswhich is also the last team to triumph in a major North American professional league.

“The first one is new and feels good,” Kobe Bryant said after No. 3, a New Jersey Nets sweep. “The first will always be the best. The second, the adversity we went through throughout the year made this one special. We have proven that we belong. This kind of allows us to become one of the great teams.

Steve Kerr, who was part of the Chicago Bulls team that won three consecutive titles in 1996, 1997 and 1998 and who as coach of the Golden State Warriors came close to doing the same in 2019, said he was extremely difficult to accomplish the feat.

“I just think about the emotional buildup and physical wear and tear that you face over time. I think you go from year one, where it’s kind of fresh and new, and in year three you’ve been chased by all the other teams and everyone is building their team to try and beat you. You had short offseasons for a few years in a row. It wears you out, that’s for sure. So I think winning three times in a row in any sport is a pretty incredible feat.

Rehearsals: 14 since 1903.

three shots: Four, including a four and a five in a row by, of course, the Yankees. A success rate of 29%.

Most recent: 2000 Yankees. “We’re winning the big ones,” reliever Mariano Rivera said. “That’s why we’re so good.”

Not everyone bought this explanation. “If every club was allowed to spend $100 million on payrolls, you wouldn’t have the same winning team every year,” said Jim Bowden, general manager of the Cincinnati Reds at the time. said. “But let’s not take away from what the Yankees have accomplished. They deserve credit where credit is due.

Bowden would have been surprised to learn that despite those expenses, the Yankees wouldn’t win again until 2009, and they haven’t won since.

Rehearsals: 17 since 1920.

three shots: Just three – a long time ago – and none of four or more. Success rate: the stingiest in the sport at 18%. And one of the three is uncertain: The Canton Bulldogs won titles in 1922 and 1923, then merged and moved to Cleveland and won again, although many don’t consider it to be the same franchise. Disregard that, and you’re down to 12%.

Most recent: The 1967 Green Bay Packers, making the current NFL wait the longest for a hat-trick. (The other undisputed hat-trick was the 1931 Packers.)

Only the last two of the Packers’ three titles in the 1960s were in the new Super Bowl, so no team won that big game three times in a row. The Miami Dolphins went to three straight Super Bowls and the Bills lost four in a row in the 1990s.

The upstart Dolphins lost Super Bowl VI to the Dallas Cowboys, 24-3. The stinging loss motivated the Dolphins the following year, when they finished the sport’s only perfect season, going 17-0 and beating Washington in Super Bowl VII. With nearly the same roster, the Dolphins repeated as champions in the 1973 season.

“You get injured players, you might get a trade or two, but in those good years we haven’t had a lot of changes,” said Dick Anderson, the team’s solid safety and one of his defensive leaders.

The Dolphins were still a formidable team before the 1974 season. There was no free agency at the time, so the team’s key players were still under contract. But the coaches were free to leave, and Bill Arnsparger, the Dolphins’ defensive coordinator, became the Giants’ head coach. Arnsparger was the architect of the Dolphins’ unnamed best defense and Anderson said, as talented as the players are, it’s harder without their soft-spoken but heady leader.

“I don’t remember ever questioning a defense that he called,” Anderson said. “He was a brilliant coach, and people don’t realize when you look at other coaches, they had other jobs as well,” including offensive coordinators Howard Schnellenberger and Monte Clark.

It has a much shorter history, but no team has hat-tricked in MLS since its debut in 1996, although there have been three repeats. The Houston Comets have won the first four WNBA titles, but there has been only one other team – the Los Angeles Sparks in 2001 and 2002 – to even repeat since the league began in 1997. both young leagues, we get a 20 passing percentage.

No matter the sport, it is difficult to obtain this third title in a row.

Ken Belson, Scott CaciolaKris Rhim and Shawna Richer contributed report.

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Newsrust - US Top News: The Tampa Bay Lightning is trying to win Stanley Cups. How difficult is it?
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