With Game 1 of the Stanley Cup starting Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Lightning have a chance to do something that hasn’t happened in the NHL in 39 years: three-peat.
Pat Riley coined the term and the moniker is fit only for greatness, teams that can win it all back-to-back-to-back.
A trifecta of championships is not only a rarity in ice hockey but in all other major professional sports leagues. The modern NFL still has never had a team achieve such a feat.
In the spirit of a possible three-peat this NHL season, here are all the major pro teams in the U.S. to have achieved the prestigious landmark in the past 50 years.
PREDICTIONS: Who will win the Stanley Cup?
Chicago Bulls 1991-1993
Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls won their first three-peat from 1991-1993 in victories over the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers and the Phoenix Suns. Jordan put on a historic performance in Game 1 of the 1992 NBA Finals with a record breaking six three pointers in one half against Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler and the Trail Blazers.
One memorable moment of the Bulls early dominance was in a close-out Game 6 of the NBA Finals, when forward Horace Grant kicked the ball out to guard John Paxson for a game-winning three pointer. The Bulls were led by the greatness of Jordan, but head coach Phil Jackson’s triangle offense was instrumental in key role players contributing to their early dominance in the 90’s.
Chicago Bulls 1996-1998
Jordan returned to the Bulls, after a two year retirement that led the all-time great to venture into his childhood love of baseball. With No. 23 back in the fold, the Bulls reclaimed their spot as the best team in the NBA. The Bulls continued to pummel their opponents and even won a then NBA-best 72 wins en route to their 1995-96 championship. In the Bulls “Last Dance,” Jordan hit the iconic “Last Shot,” over Utah Jazz guard Byron Russell to secure their sixth championship.
Los Angeles Lakers 2000-2002
Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant formed one of the most formidable duos in league history, which saw them collect three consecutive championships from 2000-2002. The Lakers featured several key role players in their run from the likes of Robert Horry, Derek Fisher, Rick Fox, and others. O’Neal and Bryant’s one-two punch provided the Lakers with a physically imposing presence in the nimble O’Neal and the immensely skilled Bryant.
Houston Comets 1997–2000
The first true dynasty of the WNBA dominated its competition from the league’s opening tip in 1997. The Comets pulled the even more rare four consecutive championships from 1997 through 2000 thanks to its big three of Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson.
Oakland Athletics 1972–1974
The Swingin’ A’s were the first and only MLB franchise to string together three straight championship-winning teams besides the New York Yankees. The first two of the three-peat went the distance to Game 7 against the Cincinnati Reds and New York Mets, respectively.
New York Yankees 1998-2000
The last full-blown Yankees dynasty started in 1998 when the squad experienced historic success, winning a franchise-record – and then-AL-record – 114 games. The final world series win in the span was against the New York Mets – the first Fall Classic of New York teams since the Brooklyn Dodgers and Yankees faced in 1956.
Montreal Canadiens 1976–1979
The Stanley Cup has lived in Montreal more than any other city with an NHL team with 24 titles. The supremacy it had was thanks to its wealth of talent – the 1977-78 squad, for example, featured nine future Hall of Famers.
New York Islanders 1980–1983
Once the Canadiens dynasty concluded, the Islanders picked up right where they left off with four championships of its own. The team hoisted its last Stanley Cup of the dynasty after sweeping an up-and-coming and Wayne Gretzky-led Edmonton Oilers. The New York team had 16 of the same players it had from the first title in 1980 in the last year.