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Not the


In an era of parity, the New York Rangers no dynasty they will actually win the Stanley Cup


STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS WERE ONCE BUILT to last. Between 1976 and '83, the Montreal Canadiens and New York Islanders each won four consecutive titles, and the Edmonton Oilers followed with four championships of their own in the next five seasons. Now the NHL throne has become an ejection seat. Next June the Rangers will become the fourth team to win the Stanley Cup in four years. The cursed, choking, put-on-this-earth-to-fail Rangers? Sure, it's their turn. In an era of one-time champions, even a team that hasn't won in 51 years comes due. Money is one reason why sustained excellence is only a memory. The Oilers reached their peak just as a few maverick owners began to loosen hockey's purse strings. When Edmonton's Peter Pocklington refused to pay his stars top dollar, the Oilers were forced to trade those players and the team was broken up. The Pittsburgh Penguins have already received a steep bill for winning the Stanley Cup last spring. They've had to match the Boston Bruins' five-year, $5.3 million offer for left wing Kevin Stevens, plus fork over $3.6 million for four seasons to keep right wing Mark Recchi. With Mario Lemieux making $2.3 million a season and defenseman Paul Coffey $1.1 million, somebody, probably Coffey, is going to have to go. Alarmists see the sky falling on small-market teams and the NHL's newly found competitive balance being destroyed. But similar fears expressed for baseball in the 1970s proved unfounded. If Cincinnati and Minnesota can win World Series, maybe the Winnipeg Jets will someday own the Cup. All they have to do is build a club good enough to have one hot playoff run. There won't be a perennial powerhouse standing in the way.

leetch will help bring the Rangers' 51-year drought to an end.



[Dmitri Khristich] [Home page] [E-mail]