Every NHL team has gone through years of success and heartache. In fact, the best teams go through heartbreak most years, because no one wins the Stanley Cup most seasons. The Montreal Canadiens have 24 Stanley Cups and the NHL was officially established in 1917. That's one way to put it.
But there's that one moment that stands out as the worst for each franchise in sports. The Cleveland Browns faithful won't get over "The Fumble." The New England Patriots, whose fans are spoiled like no other in recent memory, will never get over David Tyree's miracle catch in Super Bowl XXLII that ended their perfect season.
That U.S. Men's Olympic basketball team won't get over their controversial loss to the Soviets in the 1972 Summer Olympics. It's the nature of being an athlete, fan or just part of a sports team in general. We all have that one moment we wish we could erase from existence, or wish didn't happen at all.
For all 30 NHL squads, there have been plenty of great moments, but also plenty that are impossible to get over. We talk about redemption, but you're always going to have these memories burned into you for life. If the San Jose Sharks win the next five Stanley Cups, don't tell us they're over all those playoff meltdowns their fans had to endure years before.
It's time for us to now take a look back on the worst moment for each NHL franchise and why they stood as the absolute worst.
29 Anaheim Ducks: Another Game Seven Collapse in 2016
The Ducks have been fortunate enough that none of their players have found themselves in an embarrassing situation. They also have a Stanley Cup banner hanging in the rafters at the Honda Center. They've been one of the league's most consistent teams since the lockout.
That being said, their first-round loss to the Nashville Predators in Round One has to be by far the worst. This was the fourth-straight year they lost Game Seven on home ice. As a result, Bruce Boudreau was fired and there's a great chance it was their last shot of winning a championship with this core.
28 Boston Bruins: Game Six Collapse in 2013 Stanley Cup Final
The Bruins have had a number of depressing moments throughout their history, but right now it's hard to think of something worse than what we just listed.
Yes, I know many of you would like to bring up their blowing of a 3-0 series lead against the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010, but they redeemed themselves by winning the Cup the following year (sweeping Philly along the way). But in 2013, they were just over a minute away from forcing Game Seven against the Chicago Blackhawks for the Cup. That's before Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland notched goals in the final 1:16 and the Bruins failed to win their second title in three years.
27 Buffalo Sabres: Brett Hull Gets Away With It
The 1999 Sabres were one of the greatest Cinderella teams ever. Thanks to the heroic efforts of Vezina Trophy winner Dominik Hasek, the Sabres shocked the NHL by marching all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The last thing any sports fan wants to see is their championship hopes dash because of a horrible, no-good, very-bad, blown call. Everything had been going just fine in the series, as Dallas took a 3-2 series lead. But with Hasek between the pipes and playing lights out, it appeared as though we could have had a seventh game.
26 Calgary Flames: Game Six Robbery in 2004 Stanley Cup
Much like the 1999 Sabres, the 2004 Calgary Flames were a team that simply got red-hot at the right time, surprisingly punching a ticket to the Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
With a chance to clinch the Cup on home ice in Game Six, Martin Gelinas appeared to have given his team a lead with just over six minutes to go, but it was called back. The officials didn't review it and you know the rest: Martin St. Louis scores in overtime to force Game Seven, and Tampa Bay clinches the Stanley Cup.
25 Carolina Hurricanes: Falling Short in 2002 Stanley Cup
The Hurricanes came out of nowhere in the 2002 playoffs: Down they took the back-to-back Eastern Conference Final champion New Jersey Devils, before beating Montreal and Toronto to reach the Stanley Cup. Next up? The powerhouse Detroit Red Wings, who were loaded with Hall of Fame-calibre players like Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan, Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, and Igor Larionov.
After stealing Game One in Motown, the 'Canes were on the right track to complete the biggest Cinderella story in the history of the NHL. All they needed was three more wins and they'd become one of the biggest underdog success stories ever, but it wasn't meant to be.
24 Chicago Blackhawks: Collapsing at Home in Game Seven of 1971 Finals
The 1971 Chicago Blackhawks appeared destined to win the Stanley Cup. Stan Mikita, Dennis and Bobby Hull, and Tony Esposito headlined a core roster that faced the Montreal Canadiens for the Stanley Cup. But ending one of the NHL's greatest dynasties was easier said than done.
In Game Seven, the 'Hawks had a 2-0 lead on home ice, only for the Canadiens to kickstart a rally that tied things up. Jacques Lemaire's goal from centre ice brought the Habs right back into the game. Little did the Blackhawks know, that goal was a turning point in the franchise's history for another four decades. Henri Richard would score the game-winning goal in the third, and the good folks of Chicago had to wait another 39 years before their next Stanley Cup parade.
23 Colorado Avalanche: Patrick Roy's 2002 Meltdown
Though fans from The Mile High City had the luxury of hosting Stanley Cup parades in 1996 and 2001, this roster was far too talented to not have won more championships. 2002 may have been the best Avs team ever that didn't go all the way. Peter Forsberg returned from a season-long injury to rally his team to a deep playoff run. With Joe Sakic, Milan Hejduk, and Patrick Roy on the team, this squad could have easily gone all the way.
Colorado faced their arch rivals, the Detroit Red Wings, in the Western Conference Finals. The Avalanche grabbed a 3-2 series lead, but failed to close out the series on home ice. As a result, Game Seven was needed.
22 Columbus Blue Jackets: Embarrassing 2009 Playoff Performance
The 2008-09 season was a historic one for the hockey fans of Ohio, as they got to see their beloved Blue Jackets qualify for the postseason for the very first time. Rick Nash, R.J. Umberger, and Steve Mason were enough to bring the long-suffering fans something to celebrate. How cool would it be if they could win their first-ever playoff series in their first-ever playoff qualification?
They had the misfortunes of facing the powerhouse Red Wings in Round One. The experienced and defending Cup champions had one of the most favourable matchups we ever saw, and it was obvious the moment the puck dropped in Game One.
21 Dallas Stars: Ugly Exit From 2016 Playoffs
The Stars last won the Cup in 1999. From 2008-2013, they failed to reach the playoffs, and after making it in 2014 and missing out in 2015, this past season brought a lot for their fans to love.
Amidst mediocre goaltending and defence, the 2015-16 Stars managed to win the Central Division, one which featured other powerhouses like the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks. Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, and Cody Eakin rounded out one of the most exciting offenses ever, as the Stars scored in ridiculous bunches to win what is by far the toughest division in hockey.
20 Detroit Red Wings: Blowing 3-0 Lead in 1942 Finals
The 1942 Red Wings squad were oh-so-close to hoisting a championship in the Motor City. Legendary head coach Jack Adams, plus other stars Don Grosso and Sid Abel, managed to guide this team to the Stanley Cup Final against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Little did the Wings know that they were going to write history in one of the worst ways possible. What could go wrong with a 3-0 series lead against the Toronto Maple Leafs? All they needed was one more win and they'd secure a championship.
Detroit jumped out to a 3-0 series lead, only to become the first team in North American professional sports to blow it all. The Leafs won four in a row and stole the Cup from right under Detroit's noses. Only three NHL franchises since have blown a 3-0 lead. Given the Wings four Stanley Cups since 1997, it's safe to say fans forgave this squad decades ago.
19 Edmonton Oilers: Steve Smith's Own Goal
Oil Country sure couldn't complain much during the '80s and 1990, where they managed to complete a dynasty with five Stanley Cups. Such is life when you're led by Wayne Gretzky, Paul Coffey, and Mark Messier.
That being said, the Oilers could have been arguably the greatest dynasty of all-time if they managed to win the Cup in 1986. With the aforementioned stars, plus Glenn Anderson, Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr, and others, this Oilers squad could have absolutely re-wrote the record books.
18 Florida Panthers: 2016 Atlantic Division Title... All for Nothing
In a division that featured three elite teams from a year ago (Montreal, Tampa Bay, and Detroit) plus the pesky Boston Bruins, nobody really thought the Panthers were capable of winning the Atlantic.
But they did just that in 2015-16, winning it after capturing 103 points. The ageless Jaromir Jagr, Vincent Trochek, Aaron Ekblad, Roberto Luongo, and Aleksander Barkov managed to give the Panthers their best season in franchise history. It looked like The Sunshine State was finally back on the hockey map.
17 Los Angeles Kings: Marty McSorley's Illegal Stick
Wayne Gretzky led the Los Angeles Kings to the Stanley Cup Final in 1993 against the perennial powerhouse Montreal Canadiens. That came, of course, with plenty of controversy. The high stick that wasn't called on No. 99 in the previous round against the Toronto Maple Leafs helped Gretzky and co. reach the Final. The Kings stole Game One at the Montreal Forum, and also looked poised to go up 2-0 before going back home.
Up 2-1 late in the third period, Marty McSorley was penalized for having an illegal curve on his stick. Eric Desjardins would tie it up on the power play and would also score the game winner. The Habs would take the next three games and win the Stanley Cup. But if McSorley played nice, it could have easily gone the other way.
16 Minnesota Wild: Losing in First Round of 2008 Playoffs
The Wild have qualified for the playoffs in: 2003, 2007, 2008, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. Only was it in 2008 where they were favoured to win their first-round matchup against the Colorado Avalanche. That came after winning a fierce Northwest Division, which at that point, was considered the toughest in hockey.
This was probably Minny's best year to win a Cup up to date. Niklas Backstrom was a Vezina-calibre goaltender, while Pavol Demitra, Marian Gaborik, and Brian Rolston rounded out a lethal scoring line. They got the (luxury?) of facing the aging Avs, who were carried by Joe Sakic and Milan Hejduk, no longer in their respective primes.
15 Montreal Canadiens: The Death of Howie Morenz
Well before the legends of Maurice Richard and Gordie Howe took over the NHL in the '40s and '50s, it was Howie Morenz, The Stratford Streak, who was the must-see face of professional hockey. He was dubbed "The Babe Ruth of Hockey," because of his influence in the NHL, especially in America where hockey was just beginning to grow.
Morenz led the league in scoring twice, won three Hart Trophies and three Stanley Cups with the Canadiens. Sadly, during a 1937 game against the Chicago Blackhawks, Morenz crashed into the boards and severely fractured his leg. He would die a couple of months later in the hospital of complications from the injury.
14 Nashville Predators: Stanley Cup Hopes Dashed in 2012
The Predators have made the playoffs many times since the start of the New Millennium, but their best chances of winning it came in 2012, when they faced the Arizona Coyotes in Round Two, after convincingly taking out long-time playoff nemesis Detroit in five games.
Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Pekka Rinne, and Mike Fisher gave The Music City plenty to be excited about. Their tough defense got to face the undersized Coyotes team, who appeared to be a fluke for most of the season. Nobody thought their lack of star power would be able to put them over top of Nashville.
13 New Jersey Devils: Missing Out on a Dynasty
The Devils won the Stanley Cup in 1995, 2000, and 2003. Just imagine one more Stanley Cup, and they'd be one of hockey's greatest dynasties. 2001 was a great opportunity. With the legendary Martin Brodeur in goal along with Hall of Fame defenceman Scott Niedermayer, everything was in store for New Jersey to become the first dynasty since the Oilers.
Well, they came fairly close in 2001 when they faced the Colorado Avalanche for the Stanley Cup. New Jersey took a 3-2 series lead, needing just one more win which would have surely given them a dynasty. They had the chance to clinch the Cup on home ice in Game Six, but the entire team failed to show up, as they lost 4-0.
12 New York Islanders: The Dynasty Ends
The Islanders dynasty of the '80s was one of the most dominant ever. Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin, Billy Smith, Bryan Trottier, Butch Goring, and others brought home the Stanley Cup in 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1983.
New York went for their fifth Stanley Cup in a row, but they had to oust a rising team led by some nobody named Wayne Gretzky. Note the sarcasm. As it turned out, the 1984 Stanley Cup Final did change history in the NHL. That is, one dynasty ended and a new one began. It appeared as though the Isles would originally find a way to in fact win that fifth Cup.
Then came the 1984 Final against the Edmonton Oilers, with a chance to be the second-team ever, along with the Montreal Canadiens, to capture five straight Stanley Cups. However, the Oilers, led by Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, made easy work of the old bullies, taking them out in five games.
11 New York Rangers: Losing 2014 Stanley Cup
The 1994 Stanley Cup-winning Rangers really changed the course of the franchise. That being said, the monumental moment for the team is now over two decades old and fans aren't living in the past any more. It's been long overdue for this team to win a Cup in the Henrik Lundqvist era.
The Rangers appeared ready to win their first Stanley Cup in 20 years. Inspired by the heroic play of Martin St. Louis, Henrik Lundqvist, Rick Nash, and others, this team convincingly won the Eastern Conference.
10 Philadelphia Flyers: Swept in 1997 Stanley Cup Final
Philadelphia posted a 45-24-13 record, getting through the powerhouse Penguins, Sabres, and Rangers to set up a Stanley Cup Final date with one of hockey's most dynamic and dominant franchises ever. Two teams of destiny in the 1997 Final, but there was only room for one winner.
The Flyers were looking to win their first Stanley Cup in 22 years. With Eric Lindros, Ron Hextall, John LeClair, and Rod Brind'Amour, they were locked and loaded for a run at a championship, facing off against the Detroit Red Wings for the Cup. The Flyers also had home advantage, so what could have possibly gone wrong?
9 Pittsburgh Penguins: Failure of a Three-Peat
After winning their fourth Stanley Cup in franchise history this season, it's hard for fans in Pittsburgh to complain much about any bad moments the franchise has had. But the reigning Champs don't get special exceptions from our list.
The Penguins entered the 1992-93 season as back-to-back Stanley Cup champions, and all signs had pointed to a three-peat entering the playoffs. They set the record for most consecutive wins with 17. Mario Lemieux returned from Hodgkin's Disease to win the scoring title and Hart Trophy.
8 Ottawa Senators: Awful Performance in 2007 Stanley Cup
The Senators had a long history of underachieving in the playoffs, especially to the Toronto Maple Leafs. So when they came up short in the postseason after a ridiculously dominant 2005-06 campaign, all eyes were on redemption heading into the 2006-07 season.
In the end, the 2006-07 Senators had redeemed themselves after an early exit from the 2006 playoffs. Led by Dany Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza, they dispatched Sidney Crosby's Penguins, Martin Brodeur's Devils, and the President's Trophy-winning Buffalo Sabres.
7 San Jose Sharks: Blowing a 3-0 Series Lead to the Kings
2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. All incredible regular seasons for the San Jose Sharks, but none of them were enough to get them over the top. But the 2014 team appeared to be something different. Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns, Antti Niemi, and Logan Couture rounded out a team that seemed tough enough to take down their arch-rivals.
For years, fans had known that the San Jose Sharks were a playoff disaster every season, but when they jumped out to a 3-0 lead against their arch rivals, the Los Angeles Kings, in the first round of the 2014 playoffs, you had a feel this was a different team.
6 St. Louis Blues: Swept in 1970 Stanley Cup Final
There have been plenty of disappointing moments for arguably the NHL's best franchise that still hasn't won a Stanley Cup. Yes, there have been plenty of heartbreaks for the Blues since the New Millennium. But there really isn't anything more crushing than losing the Stanley Cup. It's much worse compared to any other series.
Their 1970 squad had to try and take down the great Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito as two powerhouses faced off for the Stanley Cup. The Bruins managed to take the first three games and needed just one more to close out the Cup. Game Four went into overtime, setting the stage for an iconic moment and for the worst moment in Blues history.
5 Tampa Bay Lightning: Losing 2015 Stanley Cup
With Steven Stamkos' likely departure this summer, we'll look back on this as Tampa's best chance of winning a Cup with the top star in franchise history (Sorry Vincent Lecavalier).
After years and years of trying to rebuild a team that was good enough to win the Eastern Conference again, the Lightning made it in convincing fashion.
Tampa Bay impressed in the playoffs: Taking out Atlantic Division winner Montreal in six, before beating the President's Trophy-winning Rangers in seven games. Up next? The difficult mission of preventing a dynasty in the Chicago Blackhawks.
4 Toronto Maple Leafs: Kerry Fraser Misses Wayne Gretzky's High Stick
The Leafs have gone 49 years (and counting) without a Stanley Cup and a blown call in the 1993 Clarence Campbell Conference Final is one of the reasons why. There is definitely no moment that's been harder for the fans to go through than this. Because quite frankly, they should have won this series.
Led by Doug Gilmour, the 1992-93 Maple Leafs appeared destined to reach their first Cup since 1967. All they had to do was get past Wayne Gretzky's Kings. They led the series 3-2 with a chance to end the series in L.A.
Game Six went to overtime and Gretzky high-sticked Gilmour while L.A. had the powerplay. It went undetected. If it did, he would have had a five-minute penalty and game misconduct. He stayed on the ice, scored the winner, and had a hat trick in Game Seven as the Kings marched to the final.
3 Vancouver Canucks: Game Seven of 2011 Stanley Cup Final
Trust me, being in Vancouver for this was not something you'd want to experience.
After 40 years of heartbreak that saw the Canucks reach just two Stanley Cup Finals, without winning it all, 2010-11 was something special. They did everything right in the regular season. Everyone in Vancouver was cheering on their beloved Canucks. It appeared as though everything was going to pay off once and for all.
The Canucks were supposed to win their first-ever Stanley Cup. They won the President's Trophy with ease. They got by old playoff foe, the Chicago Blackhawks, in Round One. It appeared to be their time.
2 Washington Capitals: Early Elimination in 2010 Playoffs
The 2009-10 Capitals were one of the most dominant bunches we've ever seen. They won the President's Trophy with ease, recording 121 points. Alex Ovechkin had 50 goals and 109 points. Nicklas Backstrom had 33 goals and 101 points. Alexander Semin had 4o goals. Four other guys notched 20-goal seasons.
Washington faced off against the Montreal Canadiens, who made the playoffs on the last weekend of the season. After the Caps stormed out to a 3-1 series lead, Jaroslav Halak stole the show, as the Habs rallied to win three in a row, sending home the league's best team in seven games.
Six years later, the loss still hurts Capitals fans. This team has still failed to help Alex Ovechkin reach the third-round. 2010 just felt like their year, but they somehow managed to lose to a team that barely reached the playoffs.
1 Winnipeg Jets: Swept By Anaheim Ducks in 2015
Just imagine being an NHL fan in Winnipeg. 15 years after losing your team to the Arizona Coyotes, you finally get a team back. You know the lengthy rebuild will take a while and you won't be able to wave the playoff towels right away.
Well, the Jets wound up surprising the league in 2014-15 by qualifying for the playoffs. Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, Drew Stafford, Jacob Trouba, Bryan Little, and Blake Wheeler brought the White Out back to Manitoba for the first time in nearly 20 years.
It was a great time to be a Jets fan in Winnipeg. Despite not having high expectations heading into the 2014-15 season, they won the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, narrowly edging out the defending champion Los Angeles Kings.
However, Winnipeg's first playoff series since coming home to Manitoba was an embarrassment. They blew third period leads in Games One, Two, and Three to Anaheim before being swept in ugly fashion.
So much for a return to The White Out.
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