The 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens? The 1984-85 Edmonton Oilers? Perhaps a more recent team, like the 2001-02 Detroit Red Wings? These three teams are among the first that come to mind in a discussion of the best teams in NHL history. Here at The Hockey Writers, our goal is to find out what the best team of all-time is through a bracket voted on by you, the reader. We’ve taken 16 of the best teams in league history, seeded them by regular-season points percentage, and matched them up.
We’ve only included one team from each of the dynasties, with the 1976-77 Canadiens representing the mid-1970s Canadiens, the 1981-82 New York Islanders representing the 1980s Islanders, and the 1984-85 Oilers representing the 1980s Oilers. We’ve also only included teams that won a Stanley Cup.
In the first round, the following teams will be going head-to-head. You can click on each team’s link to read about its roster, how its season and playoffs went, and why it should be considered the best team in league history.
- (1) 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens vs. (16) 1991-92 Pittsburgh Penguins
- (2) 2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks vs. (15) 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings
- (3) 1972-73 Montreal Canadiens vs. (14) 1947-48 Toronto Maple Leafs
- (4) 1971-72 Boston Bruins vs. (13) 1969-70 Boston Bruins
- (5) 1981-82 New York Islanders vs. (12) 1959-60 Montreal Canadiens
- (6) 1988-89 Calgary Flames vs. (11) 1993-94 New York Rangers
- (7) 1951-52 Detroit Red Wings vs. (10) 1968-69 Montreal Canadiens
- (8) 2001-02 Detroit Red Wings vs. (9) 1984-85 Edmonton Oilers
Now that the first round of voting is over, we move on to the second round. In Round 1, five of the eight matchups went to the higher-seeded team; however, there was a major upset when the 1997-98 Red Wings team, the 15th seed, upset the second-seeded 2012-13 Blackhawks team.
- (1) 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens vs. (8) 2001-02 Detroit Red Wings
- (4) 1971-72 Boston Bruins vs. (5) 1981-82 New York Islanders
- (10) 1968-69 Montreal Canadiens vs. (15) 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings
- (3) 1972-73 Montreal Canadiens vs. (11) 1993-94 New York Rangers
In the second round, the upsets continued. The 1997-98 Red Wings continue their cinderella story as a 15 seed, while the top-seeded 1976-77 Canadiens continue steamrolling through the bracket. Will the semifinals produce an all-Montreal final? Will two upsets happen? Let’s find out!
- (1) 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens vs. (5) 1981-82 New York Islanders
- (3) 1972-73 Montreal Canadiens vs. (15) 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings
In the final, we have nearly a perfect top seed versus bottom seed matchup. Will the 1976-77 Canadiens maintain their run as their on-ice counterpart continues their push for Stanley Cup glory in 2021 or will the 1997-98 Red Wings continue their streak of upsets?
In order to determine what the best team of all-time is, we’re asking for your help. From now until the end of the first round, you’ll be able to go to our Twitter or Facebook account and vote. After the first round, we will tally the votes and advance the winners. We’ll continue narrowing down the field until only two teams remain. Check back after each round to see if your favorite team advanced and to vote in the next round.
My name is Kyle, and I’m the content manager of The Hockey Writers. I joined THW in Oct. 2017 and am always striving to bring you the best hockey coverage possible. You can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.