Making the playoffs: Who has the longest active streak in professional sports? Hint: it ain’t the Yankees, but if you guessed Yankees, you’re close.
-- The Detroit Red Wings have clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the 16th consecutive season, the latest milestone for a franchise that has set a standard for sustained excellence not only in the National Hockey League but for all of North American major pro sports. The New York Yankees, who have qualified for the Major League Baseball playoffs in each of the past 12 seasons, have the next-longest streak. NEW YORK
In addition, the Red Wings reached the 100-point mark last Thursday, marking their seventh consecutive season of 100 points or more and surpassing the stretch of six such seasons amassed by the Edmonton Oilers during the Wayne Gretzky era from 1981-82 through 1986-87. The Montreal Canadiens, who recorded an NHL-record eight consecutive 100-point seasons from 1974-75 through 1981-82, are the only NHL team with a longer streak.
Naysayers could (and probably will) remark that “everyone makes the playoffs” in the NHL. This is somewhat true compared to the other major sports, in that 16 of the 30 NHL teams qualify for post-season play under the current system. But that ain’t everyone, now, is it? But, more to the point, the linked article explains the “hows and whys” of the Red Wings' success…which boils down to management continuity, smart(est) drafting (even though the Wings have only had one top-20 pick since 1992), and good trades. In other words: a supremely well-managed team with lots of talent.
But making the playoffs doesn’t guarantee anything (read that: Stanley Cup), as the last few seasons early exits have shown. Let’s hope it’s different this year…