Although the Stanley Cup existed before, it has been solely competed for by National Hockey League teams since 1926. To date, the Stanley Cup has been won three or more times consecutively on five occasions. Only three different teams have accomplished this with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens both doing it twice.
If a kid under the age of 20 was asked today which three National Hockey League teams have won the Stanley Cup three or more times consecutively, the answer would probably be the Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins and Edmonton Oilers. All are wrong answers.
The Stanley Cup has been awarded since 1893. The NHL, as we know it, came into existence in 1917-18. The Cup has solely belonged to the NHL since 1926-27. A single team has won the Stanley Cup three times or more consecutively on five occasions. Two teams have done it twice. They are…
The Toronto Maple Leafs were the first to three-peat, winning three in a row starting in 1946-47. Hap Day was the head coach in Toronto all three seasons. The team was led by legendary greats Syl Apps, Turk Broda and Bill Barilko. The 1948-49 team was lucky to even make the playoffs, finishing fourth in the six team league, just seven points ahead of Chicago Black Hawks. In 1947, Toronto downed the Montreal Canadiens in six games to win the Cup. In the following two seasons, the Maple Leafs met the Detroit Red Wings both times with each series ending in a sweep.
The only team to win the Stanley Cup in five consecutive seasons was the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs dominated the last half of the 1950’s, winning the Cup from 1955-56 to 1959-60. Widely considered the best hockey team ever assembled, Montreal was led by the Richard brothers (Maurice and Henri), Jean Beliveau, Bernie Geoffrion and Jacques Plante. The team was coached each season by Toe Blake.
The most victories Montreal allowed their opponents in any final series was two. This occurred when the Boston Bruins took them to six games in the 1957-58 final. Montreal beat Detroit 4-1 the first year, Boston 4-1 in the second, Toronto 4-1 in the fourth and swept Toronto in 1959-60.
The Punch Imlach coached Toronto Maple Leafs won three in a row from 1961-62 to 1963-64. The Toronto roster included stars like Frank Mahovlich, Red Kelly, Dave Keon, Tim Horton and Johnny Bower. Toronto met the Chicago Black Hawks in the first year’s final with a 4-2 result. Just like in their first three-peat, the Detroit Red Wings were Toronto’s opponent in the second and third finals. Toronto won in five in 1962-63 while it took seven games in 1963-64.
For eight years, starting in 1975-76, just two teams won the Stanley Cup. The Montreal Canadiens took the first four and the New York Islanders won the next four. Often pitted against the Habs team of the 1950’s in arguments over which was the greatest team of all time, this version of the Montreal Canadiens dispatched opponents in a seemingly easy manner from 1975-76 to 1978-79.
The Canadiens were coached by Scotty Bowman, a man that would win Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings, as well. The team was led by Guy Lafleur, Jacques Lemaire, Steve Shutt, Larry Robinson and Ken Dryden. Montreal swept the Philadelphia Flyers in the first year and followed that up with a sweep of the Boston Bruins. The 1977-78 Bruins took the Canadiens to six games and the New York Rangers fell victim the following year in five.
Al Arbour’s New York Islanders won the Stanley Cup from 1979-80 to 1982-83 with the help of Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, Denis Potvin, Clark Gillies and Billy Smith. The Philadelphia Flyers gave them the most fight, taking the 1980 series to six games. The following year, they allowed the Minnesota North Stars just one win then swept the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers in the last two of the four in a row.
A bet I’m willing to make is that it will never happen again. With 30 teams and a salary cap, it’s hard enough to get a team to win just two years in a row. Interestingly, just two teams have lost in the finals on three consecutive occasions, the Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues.