Thursday, October 5, 2023

We found playoffs in a hopeless place: The case for the NHL's 10 worst teams

We’re now just a week away from the start of the NHL season, meaning hockey fans are being flooded with season previews. That’s great for most of us, as we head into a new year clinging to optimism and best-case scenarios. But for fans of teams that rebuilding or just plain bad, preview season just means that any lingering hope gets squeezed out, as every preview seems to echo the same theme: You’re bad, and you’re screwed.

That’s where today’s column comes in. For the last few years, I’ve looked to offer some optimism to fans of the worst teams. And not just garden-variety optimism, where things might go a little better than expected. I’m talking a world where everyone is wrong, your team is actually good, and they’re going to make noise in the playoffs.

It’s, uh… not easy.

That doesn’t mean it can’t work sometimes. For example, heading into last season the consensus was that the second-year Kraken would miss the playoffs and maybe even be in the mix for last place. I made the case for why they could be better, and maybe even win a round. Then they did.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that last year, our previews only had the Kraken as the tenth worst team, and the nine teams below them all missed the playoffs by healthy margins. Sometimes bad teams are just bad, and all the hope in the world can’t trump that reality. But we can try, if only to give a few fan bases a break from all the negativity.

Here’s the optimist’s view of the ten teams with the bleakest outlook heading into the 2023-24 season, based on the previews that Dom, Sean and Shayna have been churning out. We’ll start with the best of those teams, and work our way down to the dregs.

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

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