The last time the St. Louis Blues were playing in the Stanley Cup final, the Beatles had just announced they were breaking up, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was fresh off of four victories at the Oscars and Laura Branigan, whose ‘Gloria’ has become the rallying cry for the franchise this post-season, was still a high-schooler more than a decade away from releasing the 1980s hit.
So, yeah, it’s been some time before the Blues have enjoyed a trip to the last series of the season. Nearly 50 years, in fact, as the last time St. Louis appeared in a Stanley Cup final was in 1970, a series that saw the Blues square off against the Boston Bruins, coincidentally. That was 49 years and 48 seasons ago, back well before anyone on the current Blues roster was born and when current St. Louis GM Doug Armstrong was anxiously awaiting his sixth birthday.
But now that the Blues have snapped their final drought with Tuesday’s convincing 5-1 victory in Game 6 of the Western Conference final against the San Jose Sharks, St. Louis’ Stanley Cup final drought, which was the second-longest active drought in the league, falls to the bottom of the list.
Who steps into the Blues’ place? And who has the dubious distinction of the lengthiest active final drought? You won’t find the Blues or Bruins on the list below, for obvious reasons, but here’s a franchise-by-franchise look at how long its been since each team last went head-to-head for the sport’s greatest prize:
Anaheim Ducks – 12 seasons
Prior to this season, the Ducks had found a way to become one of the models of post-season consistency but failed repeatedly to get over the hump, which resulted in not one, but two close calls. In 2016-17, Anaheim fell in six games to the Predators and saw their chances at a Cup final go up in smoke, and that came only shortly after the Ducks blew a 3-2 series lead in the 2014-15 conference final against the Blackhawks. Thus, Anaheim’s last trip to the final was in 2006-07, when they won the Cup.
Arizona Coyotes – 39 seasons
Technically, the franchise’s drought as the Coyotes is only 22 seasons, beginning with the 1996-97 campaign when the franchise moved south from Winnipeg. But the Jets’ drought was 17 seasons before the relocation happened, bringing the franchise total to 39 campaigns. The last time the Coyotes came close to a final was also the first time. However, they lost the 2011-12 Western Conference final to the eventual Cup-winning Kings.
Buffalo Sabres – 19 seasons
Talk about a decade of post-season pain. The Sabres last made the Stanley Cup final in 1998-99 where they were downed by a Brett Hull winning goal that gives some in Buffalo nightmares to this day, this coming one year after the Sabres lost the conference final in six games. Then, to add insult to injury, Buffalo iced one of the league’s best teams in the seasons preceding and following the lockout only to lose the conference final in seven games in 2005-06 and five games in 2006-07. Hug a Sabres fan.
Calgary Flames – 14 seasons
Post-season success has been hard to come by in the post-lockout era for the Flames. In fact, Calgary has won a grand total of one – count ‘em, one – playoff round since their trip to the Stanley Cup final in 2003-04. That post-season ended with a heartbreaking seven-game loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Carolina Hurricanes – 13 seasons
The Hurricanes have had no issue with playoff success once they get the dance, but the issue has been getting there in the first place. Since winning the Stanley Cup in 2005-06, Carolina has only made the playoffs twice, but they made and lost the conference final on both occasions, in 2008-09 and this season, 2018-19.
Chicago Blackhawks – Four seasons
Hard to feel bad for the Blackhawks given it’s only been four years since a run of three Stanley Cup victories in six seasons ended. Chicago exited the post-season in the first round in their past two trips, but the Blackhawks were finalists (and champions) in 2014-15.
Colorado Avalanche – 17 seasons
Like a number of other franchises on this list, the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup in their last trip to the final in 2000-01 and haven’t been back since. They’ve come close, most notably falling in seven games to the Red Wings in the 2001-02 Western Conference final, but Coloradohasn’t gone beyond the second round of the post-season since then.
Columbus Blue Jackets – 18 seasons
Baby steps. The Blue Jackets won their first playoff round in franchise history this past season, upsetting the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Lightning to do so. The next step is winning two rounds in one post-season.
Dallas Stars – 18 seasons
The Stars were oh-so-close to becoming back-to-back champions when they followed up their 1998-99 Stanley Cup victory with a return trip to the final in 1999-00. Dallas lost in six games, though, and hasn’t been back since. There was the 2007-08 trip to the conference final, but the Stars lost that in six to the Red Wings.
Detroit Red Wings – 10 seasons
It’s been a gradual decline for the Red Wings over the past several seasons. Since winning the Stanley Cup in 2007-08, Detroit has lost a final, been ousted in the second round three times, booted from the first round four times and missed the playoffs three times.
Edmonton Oilers – 13 seasons
The Oilers fought their was, rather unexpectedly, to the Stanley Cup final in the first season coming out of the lockout, but they have zero trips to the season’s final series since. Connor McDavid has the superstar power to change that if Edmonton can ever put the necessary pieces around him.
Florida Panthers – 22 seasons
Before the Golden Knights, the Panthers were arguably the most stunning story of expansion to post-season success. It took three seasons for Florida to win its way to a Stanley Cup final. Unfortunately, the trip to the final in 1995-96 was the only time the Panthers have made it that far and the franchise doesn’t have a single series win in the two decades-plus since.
Los Angeles Kings – Five seasons
Even though the Kings have as much recent playoff success as the Blackhawks, it’s easier to feel for Los Angeles given the light at the end of the tunnel is an awful lot dimmer. The Kings made the final and won the Stanley Cup in 2013-14. It’s going to be a while before their next trip to the final, though.
Minnesota Wild – 18 seasons
The Wild came close in their infancy – a trip to the conference final in Year Three – but Minnesota hasn’t played beyond the second round since. During a stretch of six consecutive playoff berths, a run which ended this season, the Wild only won two rounds.
Montreal Canadiens – 25 seasons
In the wake of their 1992-93 Stanley Cup victory, the Canadiens have had their chances. In 2009-10, however, Montreal fell short against the Flyers in the conference final, and a trip back to the third round in 2013-14 produced the same result as the Canadiens lost in six games to the Rangers.
Nashville Predators – Two seasons
No one in Nashville is going to be pleased with the results of the past two seasons, particularly as the respective second- and first-round exits come on the heels of the franchise’s first trip to the Stanley Cup final. It might be time for some roster shuffling if the Predators have designs on getting back to the final in this window.
New Jersey Devils – Seven seasons
Three finals in four seasons, featuring two Stanley Cup wins, for the Devils between 1999-00 and 2002-03 was followed by consistent playoff contention, one year of a franchise in flux and then a return trip to the final in 2011-12. It’s been nothing but playoff misses and one early exit since, though, as New Jersey looks to build a foundation for the future.
New York Islanders – 34 seasons
The Islanders’ run of four consecutive Stanley Cups was halted when they ran into their heirs, the Wayne Gretzky-led Oilers, in the 1983-84 final. Little did New York or their faithful know that that trip to the final would be the last they’d see for a long time. It has since been 35 years since the Islanders’ last final appearance, and only once – in 1992-93, when New York lost in five games to Montreal – did they come close to returning.
New York Rangers – Five seasons
Try as he might, Henrik Lundqvist has only been able to guide the Rangers to the Stanley Cup final once during his career. That came in 2013-14 and snapped an 18-season drought. Given they’re in rebuild mode, it could be another decade before we see the Rangers back in the final, though the addition of Kaapo Kakko (or Jack Hughes, if New Jersey goes against the grain with the top pick) is going to do wonders for New York.
Ottawa Senators – 12 seasons
The Senators could not have possibly been closer to the Stanley Cup final in 2016-17. Ottawa took Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final to double overtime before the Penguins, the eventual Stanley Cup champions, found the winner. The state of the Senators leads one to believe that we’re likely a long way from seeing Ottawa back in the final, too.
Philadelphia Flyers – Nine seasons
The Flyers have never had a final drought longer than 11 seasons, which is pretty impressive when you think about it. Unfortunately, a larger and more competitive field makes it difficult to picture Philadelphia earning their way to another final in the next three seasons. The Flyers are in the NHL’s middleground right now, though a couple of quality additions could change things in a hurry.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Two seasons
Four Stanley Cup final appearances and three league crowns in the post-lockout era. Pittsburgh has had a mountain of success with Sidney Crosby leading the franchise, and does anyone really doubt that Crosby and Co. will get back to the final at least one more time before his career is through?
San Jose Sharks – Three seasons
Apologies, Sharks fans. We understand this wound is still fresh. San Jose earned a berth into the final in 2015-16, and who knows how things would have turned out this season with a healthy Erik Karlsson throughout the Western Conference final and a lineup that wasn’t without Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl in the series-deciding game.
Tampa Bay Lightning – Four seasons
This was supposed to be the year the Lightning returned to the final, but a stunning Round 1 defeat shocked the hockey world. So, when does Tampa Bay get back to the final? Next season wouldn’t be the worst bet. The Bolts are going to have unfinished business and a chip on their shoulder.
Toronto Maple Leafs – 51 seasons
Forget the Stanley Cup drought, the Maple Leafs haven’t even been back to the final in the post-expansion era. Since the Stanley Cup victory in 1966-67 against Montreal, Toronto has failed to reach another final. And the real salt in the wound here is that it’s not as though the Maple Leafs haven’t come close, which would almost make such a drought easier to stomach. No, Toronto has reached the penultimate post-season series on five occasions and fallen short each time. None of the defeats was more devastating to the longtime fanbase than the 1992-93 loss, in which lost in seven games to the Kings.
Vancouver Canucks – Eight seasons
It wasn’t so much a fall from grace as it was a plummet. The Canucks seemingly had the Bruins dead to rights with a 3-2 series lead in the Stanley Cup final in 2010-11, but Boston clawed back in Games 6 and 7 to pull the rug out from under Vancouver. What followed was three first-round defeats in four seasons and now four consecutive years outside the playoffs.
Vegas Golden Knights – One season
It’s incredibly unlikely we’ll ever see anything quite like the Golden Knights’ run to the Stanley Cup final ever again. The expansion franchise shocked everyone with a run to the final last season, and one can’t help but wonder where Vegas’ run would have taken them this year if they could have held on against the Sharks in Game 7 of the opening round.
Washington Capitals – One season
Sure, they were booted in the first round by the wild-card Hurricanes this season, but the Capitals can hang their hats on last season’s Stanley Cup victory.
Winnipeg Jets – 19 seasons
Failing to capitalize on last season’s run could come back to haunt the Jets, who at really no point this past season looked like the same powerhouse that ran over the Wild and Predators in the first two rounds of the 2017-18 playoffs. Sure, Winnipeg has hosted a Calder Cup final before, but the last big-league final the city saw was an Avco Cup final back during the WHA days.
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