(image by getty images)
By Eduardo Razo
Since LeBron James took his talents to South Beach, the term “super team” came to the mainstream forefront in sports.
Fast forward to 2016 and the birth of a new powerhouse has taken place in the Bay Area. After spurning the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kevin Durant shocked the sports world by signing with the Golden State Warriors.
Furthermore, New York Yankees General Manager Brain Cashman decided to bring the term to baseball. In the off-season, the Boston Red Sox acquired pitcher Chris Sale in a blockbuster deal with the Chicago White Sox.
As a result, Cashman labeled the Red Sox as the “Golden State Warriors of baseball.”
But what about hockey?
In a salary cap world, building a “super team” can be difficult. Pay cuts are necessary in order to stay under the cap. From the Montréal Canadiens to the Edmonton Oilers, there have been plenty of super teams in the NHL’s illustrious 100 years.
Nevertheless, when it comes to super teams in the NHL, the 2001-2002 Detroit Red Wings were the last to step onto the ice.
Their roster featured hall of famers and a future hall of famer, resulting in a stacked team. Here are some of the names on this team:
- Chris Chelios
- Steve Yzerman
- Sergei Federov
- Dominik Hasek
- Igor Larionov
- Brett Hull
- Nicklas Lidstrom
- Luc Robitaille
- Pavel Datsyuk
- Scotty Bowman (Head Coach)
Although some were past their prime, they still had the pressure of having the “Championship or Bust” mantra that super teams have.
However, prior to any championship aspirations, they had to get through the regular season. Like many super teams, they had a target on their back, but that did not phase this team. Although every team gave them their best shot, they still finished and stood tall.
Led by four 30-goal scorers (Shanahan, Hull, Fedorov, and Robitaille) Detroit finished with a 51–17–10–4 record, which resulted in Presidents Trophy.
Then came the true test for this super team, the playoffs. When assembling a squad of Detroit’s caliber, it will either end with the Stanley Cup or it will be considered an utter failure of a season.
After a first round scare at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks, Detroit made quick work of the St. Louis Blues.
The only team that stood between them and Stanley Cup Final berth would be their archrival, the Colorado Avalanche. In a hard fought seven game series, Detroit found a way to get past their rival for a chance at the Stanley Cup.
Finally, the Carolina Hurricanes stood in their way, but that did not last long. Carolina took game one, but they did not stand a chance with Detroit winning the next four to claim the 10th Stanley Cup in their franchise’s history.
For a team that had been built for a one-year run, Detroit did what a super team should do and that would be winning a championship.
In this new age NHL, super teams hardly exist due to the salary cap. The Chicago Blackhawks have won three cups in 7 years, yet they are not considered a super team. Trading off any young players they cannot afford due to the salary cap.
Detroit will remain the last of the super teams in the NHL because of the cap restrictions many teams face. There will never be a time where that many hall of famers suits up for one team, so the thought of a super team does not seem feasible going forward.