A few months back, when it first looked like the Coyotes were a legit team, I became curious about their current active playoff futility streak — no playoff series wins since 1987, when the Winnipeg Jets defeated the Calgary Flames in a six-game Smythe Division Semi-Final — and how it compared to other historical paragons of failure.
Turns out, it compares pretty favourably, in exactly the wrong way. More specifically, I’m pretty sure they currently hold the NHL record for most seasons played without a playoff series victory. These are the longest streaks I could find:
- Winnipeg Jets-Phoenix Coyotes: 1987-88 to 2003-04; 2005-06 to 2008-09 (21 seasons)
- Quebec Bulldogs-Hamilton Tigers-New York Americans: 1913-14 to 1916-17; 1919-20 to 1934-35 (20 seasons)
- New York Rangers: 1950-51 to 1969-70 (20 seasons)
Note that the Bulldogs-Tigers-Americans franchise streak includes their final four seasons in the NHL’s predecessor league, the National Hockey Association. Note also that all these years are inclusive, and that seasons in which a team did not play — 2004-05 for the Coyotes; 1917-18 and 1918-19 for the Bulldogs — are excluded for obvious reasons. This also means that while the Ottawa Senators did not win a playoff series between the old franchise’s last Stanley Cup in 1927 and the new franchise’s first series victory in 1998, only twelve seasons were completed during that stretch — six as the old Senators, one as the St. Louis Eagles, and five as the new Senators — which puts them down the list a bit.
This list should also give us Oilers fans a bit of perspective, for however bad things seem to be now, we’ve only missed the playoffs four seasons in a row: we have a long, long way to go before we’re as historically bad as these guys.