Great Parity in the NHL

 

The Florida Panthers are leading the Southeast Division and third in the Eastern Conference standings, which sounds new to many hockey fans. It’s no secret that the Cats have struggled for a long time, but times have changed. There is reason for optimism in South Florida as Kevin Dineen’s cast has shown. The Panthers’ success got me thinking about parity in professional sports, and I decided to see what professional sports have enjoyed the most parity in the last 10 years. To judge this, I took a look at the teams that played in the finals of the NHL, MLB, NBA, and NFL in order to determine how much variety the respective sports have enjoyed. For each sport, the two finalists are listed next to the season with the champion listed first. Below the yearly finalists is a breakdown of how many times each team has played in the finals for their respective sport. Quick note – for the NHL, the last 10 years have given us 9 seasons because of the lockout, so take that into consideration.

NHL

2010-2011 – Boston Bruins v. Vancouver Canucks

2009-2010 – Chicago Blackhawks v. Philadelphia Flyers

2008-2009 – Pittsburgh Penguins v. Detroit Red Wings

2007-2008 – Detroit Red Wings v. Pittsburgh Penguins

2006-2007 – Anaheim Ducks v. Ottawa Senators

2005-2006 – Carolina Hurricanes v. Edmonton Oilers

2004-2005 – LOCKOUT

2003-2004 – Tampa Bay Lightning v. Calgary Flames

2002-2003 – New Jersey Devils v. Anaheim Ducks

2001-2002 – Detroit Red Wings v. Carolina Hurricanes

13 Teams in 9 Seasons

Detroit Red Wings – 3

Anaheim Ducks – 2

Carolina Hurricanes – 2

Pittsburgh Penguins – 2

Boston Bruins – 1

Calgary Flames – 1

Chicago Blackhawks – 1

Edmonton Oilers – 1

New Jersey Devils – 1

Philadelphia Flyers – 1

Ottawa Senators – 1

Tampa Bay Lightning – 1

Vancouver Canucks – 1

MLB

2011 – St. Louis Cardinals v. Texas Rangers

2010 – San Francisco Giants v. Texas Rangers

2009 – New York Yankees v. Philadelphia Phillies

2008 – Philadelphia Phillies v. Tampa Bay Rays

2007 – Boston Red Sox v. Colorado Rockies

2006 – St. Louis Cardinals v. Detroit Tigers

2005 – Chicago White Sox v. Houston Astros

2004 – Boston Red Sox v. St. Louis Cardinals

2003 – Florida Marlins v. New York Yankees

2002 – Anaheim Angels v. San Francisco Giants

13 Teams in 10 Seasons

St. Louis Cardinals – 3

Boston Red Sox – 2

New York Yankees – 2

Philadelphia Phillies – 2

San Francisco Giants – 2

Texas Rangers – 2

Anaheim Angels – 1

Chicago White Sox – 1

Colorado Rockies – 1

Detroit Tigers – 1

Florida Marlins – 1

Houston Astros – 1

Tampa Bay Rays – 1

NBA

2010-2011 – Dallas Mavericks v. Miami Heat

2009-2010 – Los Angeles Lakers v. Boston Celtics

2008-2009 – Los Angeles Lakers v. Orlando Magic

2007-2008 – Boston Celtics v. Los Angeles Lakers

2006-2007 – San Antonio Spurs v. Cleveland Cavaliers

2005-2006 – Miami Heat v. Dallas Mavericks

2004-2005 – San Antonio Spurs v. Detroit Pistons

2003-2004 – Detroit Pistons v. Los Angeles Lakers

2002-2003 – San Antonio Spurs v. New Jersey Nets

2001-2002 – Los Angeles Lakers v. New Jersey Nets

9 Teams in 10 Seasons

Los Angeles Lakers – 5

San Antonio Spurs – 3

Boston Celtics – 2

Dallas Mavericks – 2

Detroit Pistons – 2

Miami Heat – 2

New Jersey Nets – 2

Cleveland Cavaliers – 1

Orlando Magic – 1

NFL

2010-2011 – Green Bay Packers v. Pittsburgh Steelers

2009-2010 – New Orleans Saints v. Indianapolis Colts

2008-2009 – Pittsburgh Steelers v. Arizona Cardinals

2007-2008 – New York Giants v. New England Patriots

2006-2007 – Indianapolis Colts v. Chicago Bears

2005-2006 – Pittsburgh Steelers v. Seattle Seahawks

2004-2005 – New England Patriots v. Philadelphia Eagles

2003-2004 – New England Patriots v. Carolina Panthers

2003-2003 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers v. Oakland Raiders

2001-2002 – New England Patriots v. St. Louis Rams

14 Teams in 10 Seasons

New England Patriots – 4

Pittsburgh Steelers – 3

Indianapolis Colts – 2

Arizona Cardinals – 1

Carolina Panthers – 1

Chicago Bears – 1

Green Bay Packers – 1

New Orleans Saints – 1

New York Giants – 1

Oakland Raiders – 1

Philadelphia Eagles – 1

Seattle Seahawks – 1

St. Louis Rams – 1

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 1

What we see is that the NHL, MLB, and NFL have enjoyed relatively equal parity, at least as it relates to finalists. The NBA is markedly behind the other three large leagues, but this absolutely makes sense because there are fewer moving parts in basketball than hockey, baseball, and football. In basketball, if a team has the best two or three players on the court, they are more likely to win than a hockey team, for example, that has the best two or three players on the ice. Continued success is easier to sustain in the NBA. The Los Angeles Lakers enjoyed runs with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal and Bryant and Pau Gasol. The San Antonio Spurs enjoyed runs with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. The Boston Celtics have enjoyed runs with Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce. If you look at the NBA, the league is not even averaging a new finalist per season.

We often hear about the parity in the NFL, but the NHL has shown that it too enjoys new teams in the spotlight. In fact, the NHL has shown that comebacks and underdogs are more prevalent in their playoffs than any other sports’ postseason. The NHL has a great product that keeps many different cities involved, and this year, Florida has joined the party. Whether the Panthers make the Stanley Cup Finals or not, they are a relevant team with a good chance of keeping things interesting.

 

 

Jason Sosnovsky
Jason grew up rooting for the Red Wings until his hometown of Atlanta got the Thrashers in 1999, so much for that. He is a Northwestern University alum and current 3L at the University of Miami School of Law. He is also the President of the Entertainment & Sports Law Society at the law school.

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