The argument on whether or not the Chicago Blackhawks should be considered a "dynasty" or a "modern dynasty" is raging pretty hard right now. One side declares that it's time to re-define a hockey dynasty for the post salary cap era of hockey and anoint the Blackhawks the first of the "modern dynasties."
Dynasties in hockey (and in sports in general) are somewhat ambiguous, with no official rules saying what is and isn't an NHL dynasty, however you can see commonalities between the consensus nine dynasties in NHL history:
- Ottawa Senators: 1919-27 (4 championships in 8 years)
- Toronto Maple Leafs: 1946-51 (4 championships in 5 years)
- Detroit Red Wings: 1949-55 (4 championships in 6 years)
- Montreal Canadiens: 1955-60 (5 consecutive championships)
- Toronto Maple Leafs: 1962-67 (4 championships in 5 years)
- Montreal Canadiens: 1964-69 (4 championships in 5 years)
- Montreal Canadiens: 1975-79 (4 consecutive championships)
- New York Islanders: 1980-83 (4 consecutive championships)
- Edmonton Oilers: 1983-90 (5 championships in 7 years)
Right off the bat you can see the Blackhawks lack two things that all other dynasties have: they have not won the cup consecutively, and they have not won at least four championships.
But should these requirements be in place in the modern, salary cap NHL, where there is greater parity and it is tougher to retain talent? In the future we may decide to redefine a dynasty while teams are actively competing for the traditional definition we should not redefine it.
This year is probably the worst year to make the argument that the consecutive championship requirement needs to be removed if we want to continue to have dynasties. In the first six years of the salary cap, six different teams won the Cup, and it seemed like parity was winning out.
However in the past six years the same three teams have won the Cup; the Blackhawks with three Cups, the Kings with two Cups, and the Boston Bruins with one. We also aren't even giving the Blackhawks a shot at a legitimate claim to a dynasty with a Cup win next year. Granted their cap situation isn't great, but is it too hard to think that the Blackhawks could win the Cup again next year?
Even if they don't win next year, what is to say another team can't win the Cup consecutively in the future? Perhaps the loss this year was the experience that the Tampa Bay Lightning need they go on to win four Cups in five years? Do we take away the Blackhawks claim to having a dynasty if it becomes apparent that we preemptively gave it to them?
Maybe in the future we will redefine what Chicago did these past few years as a dynasty. Twenty or thirty years from now we will have a better context for this era of hockey and we can decide that we still want dynasties to exist and whether or not what the Blackhawks did was the peak of NHL hockey for their time. But right now we do not have that context, and we should hold off on redefining the concept of a dynasty until we do.
The Chicago Blackhawks did a great thing that very few people thought they could do, they won the Stanley Cup three times in six years, and no one can take that away from them. But maybe we should hold off on giving them the coveted "dynasty" label, and at least give them the chance to earn it the old-fashioned way.