Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Remembering your team’s greatest playoff run (that didn’t end with a Stanley Cup)

It’s the playoffs, that wonderful time of year when 16 teams battle it out for the right to lift the Stanley Cup.

Spoiler alert: Most of them will fail. Fifteen of them, to be exact.

In fact, they’ll fail miserably. At least, that’s the narrative we’ve apparently all agreed on when it comes to the playoffs. One winner, and fifteen failures. The playoffs are all about winning the Stanley Cup, and it doesn’t matter how good your season was or even how much you win when you get to the playoffs. If you don’t win it all, you’ve failed, and you should be sad about that. We don’t do participation trophies in this sport, and we don’t celebrate losers. Only one team and one fan base gets to be happy.

Well, screw that. I hate this narrative. And sure, maybe it’s because I’m a Leafs fan and my team never wins anything. But it’s a miserable way to go through life as a sports fan, especially in an era with 32 teams. Welcome to NHL fandom, you have a 97% chance of being miserable at the end of every season, doesn’t that sound like fun?

Obviously, some teams are bad and some seasons really do end in crushing disappointment. Maybe even most of them. But at some point, too many of us lost sight of the fact that being a fan is supposed to be fun, and that means being allowed to enjoy and even celebrate seasons that don’t end in a championship.

So today, as we gear up for another night of postseason action, that’s what we’re going to do. Let’s go through all 32 teams and remember one playoff run that was legitimately fun, even if it didn’t end in a Stanley Cup championship. Bonus points if they only won a round or two. And we’re going to be relentlessly positive about it, which will admittedly be a change from my normal tone. I promise I’ll be back to complaining about how much I hate everything soon.

Until then, let’s remember some teams that didn’t win, but did win us over. As a bonus, if you think I picked the wrong year for your favorite team, hop into the comments and let me know which season was even better.

We’re all about the good times here. No rankings, no countdown, no alphabetical order, let’s just remember some playoff runs.

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