Tonight, the Vegas Golden Knights begin their second third-round series matchup against the Montreal Canadiens, in a run of four straight trips to the playoffs. The run of success in Nevada has completely flipped upside down how expansion teams usually are expected to perform in hockey.
The Golden Knights may not have an equal when it comes to early success in the NHL, but when it comes to other leagues among the North American "Big Four" leagues, a handful of teams have bucked the trend of struggling early before eventually becoming successful in their first four years.
Arizona Diamondbacks (1998-2001, Two NL West Titles, 1 World Series title)
In 1998, Major League Baseball expanded to the state of Arizona and the fans in the Arizona Diamondbacks didn't have to wait very long to see a winning franchise.
In 1999, the Diamondbacks would go 100-62 as well as winning the National League West division before falling to the New York Mets in the National League Divisional Series.
Arizona would miss the playoffs in 2000 but would return in 2001 where they'd once again win the NL West but also win their first World Series in seven games over the New York Yankees and set a baseball record by winning a championship in just their fourth season.
The Diamondbacks like the Golden Knights also had a strong veteran presence in their first few seasons such as former NL home run leader Matt Williams and Luis Gonzalez who would hit a career high 57 home runs in 2001.
The young franchise would also sign veteran pitcher Randy Johnson in 1999 and he'd be named to the National League All-Star team from 1999-2002 during his tenure in Arizona. Johnson and fellow all star Curt Schilling would win the World Series co-MVP awards after Arizona's 2001 win over the legendary New York Yankees.
Arizona and Vegas are right beside each other when it comes to division titles and all-stars, but we can give points towards the Golden Knights for making it to the Cup Final in their first year, while Arizona finished off a title run in season four. With two more series wins, the Golden Knights would equal this mark of the Diamondbacks.
Milwaukee Bucks (1968-69 to 1971-72, 2 Division titles, 1 NBA title)
The Bucks joined the NBA in time for the 1968-69 season and after just one year of missing the playoffs, they wouldn't miss the post-season again until 1974-75.
The Bucks were a well-rounded team led by the likes of Oscar Robertson, Bob Dandridge, and a young standout center taken #1 in the 1969 NBA Draft in the form of future NBA finals MVP Lew Alcindor, soon to be known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. In 1969-70, the Bucks would win the Eastern Division title and make playoffs for the first time, making it to the Eastern Division Finals. In 1970-71, the Bucks would reach the pinnacle of basketball success.
In just their third season as a franchise, they would win their first NBA title after recording what is still a franchise-best mark of a 66-16 regular season, capped off with a four-game sweep of the Baltimore Bullets (now Washington Wizards) in the NBA Finals.
The Bucks like the Golden Knights claimed two Division titles in four years but have Vegas beaten by a full year when it comes to actually winning a championship.
Cleveland Browns (1950-1953, 4 Appearances in NFL Championship game, 1 NFL title)
We may have to put a little asterisk when we talk about the Cleveland Browns and their success.
The Cleveland Browns technically came to the NFL when the All-American Football Conference merged in 1950 with the bigger league. The Browns were the powerhouse of the AAFC and when they arrived in the NFL they continued their winning ways.
Cleveland was led by legendary head coach Paul Brown and Quarterback Otto Graham and did something that the Golden Knights nor any other pro team has done since with ten straight Championship game appearances in both the AAFC and NFL Championship game, the title game that predated the modern Super Bowl.
The Golden Knights have been the standard for how to have success in hockey from Day 1 but the idea of ten straight Stanley Cup Final trips out of the gate is something that we may only ever see happen in NHL 21.