Should We Consider the Blackhawks a Dynasty?

Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic has put an abrupt halt on the sports world and caused a stoppage in the three major sports that would be playing right now.

Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic has put an abrupt halt on the sports world and caused a stoppage in the three major sports that would be playing right now. A year ago today, Major League Baseball (MLB) was nearly a month deep into its regular season, the National Basketball Association (NBA) was at the end of the first round of its playoffs, and the National Hockey League (NHL) was beginning its second round. Regardless of the situation, analysts and sports media enjoy looking back at the best teams of the decade for each league, but the pandemic has allowed for there to be a deeper evaluation of these great teams.

By the number of championships each team won in its respective league, the 2010s' best teams would be the New England Patriots in football, the Golden State Warriors in basketball, the San Francisco Giants in baseball, and the Chicago Blackhawks in hockey. The Blackhawks' memorable run came in the first half of the decade, capturing the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013, and 2015: three championships in six seasons. While it's undeniable that the Blackhawk's was the most successful NHL team of the decade and that it left a major impact on 2010s hockey, was it really a dynasty?

Different analysts have had many debates on the nature of dynasties, but it is still a topic left undefined. It's hard to pinpoint where a "dynasty" truly starts, but for the Blackhawks, 2002 is a fair starting point, when it drafted defenseman and alternate captain of 12 years Duncan Keith. In the middle of the 2005-06 season, it traded with the Philadelphia Flyers for wing Patrick Sharp. In 2006 and 2007, the Blackhawks then selected Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane respectively, the team's two leading offensive contributors during its run. Finally, the Blackhawks added wing Marian Hossa in 2009, and the core was fully assembled. Along with great role players that the Blackhawks selected in the draft, the team beat the Flyers to be crowned 2010 Stanley Cup champions. It was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in 2011 and 2012, but defeated the Boston Bruins to hoist the cup once more in 2013. Then, after losing to the 2014 champions, the Los Angeles Kings, in overtime of game seven in the Western Conference Finals, the Blackhawk's eventually defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2015 to complete the astonishing feat.

Winning the three Cups in six years was an extremely impressive accomplishment for the franchise, but is it worthy of being called a "dynasty?" The basic definition of dynasty is a team that wins a substantial number of championships over a prolonged period of time. But not all dynasties are created equal, as there's no minimum number of championships or predetermined longevity to be considered a dynasty. Both sides have their argument, and the ambiguity of the word "dynasty" plays into the debate as well, as everyone has their definition. One could easily argue that the Blackhawks were indeed a dynasty, because winning three Stanley Cups in six years had not been done since Wayne Gretzky's Oilers won the Cup in 1984, 1985, 1987, and 1988, almost 30 years prior to the Blackhawks' last championship. Additionally, since 2008, only the Blackhawks and the Penguins have had a nine-season playoff streak, the longest in that period, with both ending in the 2017-18 season. But that is simultaneously where the real discussion begins for the argument that the Blackhawks did not have a dynasty.

Many might ask themselves, "What did the Blackhawks do that was that much different from what other teams accomplished?" Take the Pittsburgh Penguins as an example, who appeared in 13 consecutive playoffs, winning the cup in 2009 and taking back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017 after the Blackhawks won its third title. Not many analysts consider the Penguins a dynasty, so why should we consider the Blackhawks one? Many would argue that winning the cup in back-to-back seasons is a harder feat than winning it three times in six years. The Kings also found success in the 2010s, hoisting the cup in 2012 and 2014. If winning three out of six years is considered a dynasty, should we consider winning two out of three a dynasty, a better ratio? A lot of the answers to these questions linger because the debate is entirely based on opinion. So, while NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman considers the 2010s Blackhawks a dynasty, there's plenty of evidence to argue that it wasn't, and that it was just another team who found success in a sport filled with teams who lived brief eras of greatness.

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