The Longest Playoff Streaks in NHL History

What is Chris Ilitch thinking? The Detroit Red Wings owner allows a once-proud franchise to wither on the vine.
No, I’m not talking about the Detroit Tigers. Though the statement could apply to the baseball team the Ilitch family helms.
Ilitch The Younger is steering the Red Wings back to their old “Dead Wings” days. The just completed NHL season marked the seventh straight in which Detroit failed to make the NHL Playoffs.

The NHL Playoffs welcome 16 teams. That’s sixteen. You know, one more than 15? And nearly half the league. But still, the Red Wings have failed to earn their way into the postseason dance since their last appearance in the 2015-15 season. Back when Mike Ilitch was alive.

Oh, and meanwhile, the Tigers have spiraled to become one of the worst teams in baseball, and haven’t contended for a playoff spot since…you guessed it…2016.

Remember when the Red Wings were the elite team in their sport?

NHL franchises with the longest streaks

Here is a list of NHL franchises with the longest streaks of making the playoffs, based on the knowledge cutoff of September 2021:

  1. Boston Bruins … 29 seasons (1967-68 to 1995-96)
  2. Chicago Blackhawks … 28 seasons (1969-70 to 1996-97)
  3. Montreal Canadiens … 24 seasons (1970-71 to 1993-94)
  4. St. Louis Blues … 25 seasons (1979-80 to 2003-04)
  5. Detroit Red Wings … 25 seasons (1990-91 to 2015-16)
  6. Pittsburgh Penguins … 14 seasons (2006-07 to 2019-20)
  7. Philadelphia Flyers … 13 seasons (1994-95 to 2007-08)
  8. New York Islanders … 11 seasons (1974-75 to 1984-85)
  9. Edmonton Oilers … 11 seasons (1978-79 to 1988-89)
  10. Calgary Flames … 11 seasons (2003-04 to 2014-15)

Detroit Red Wings Used To Be On Top

For a quarter of a century, Detroit made the playoffs every season. For many of those seasons, the team was among the best in the NHL, and typically featured some of the most legendary names in hockey. Remember Nicklas Lidström? Remember Henrik Zetterberg? Remember when Detroit fans had a reason to bring an octopus to the rink?

Thanks, Mr. Ilitch.

The Red Wings are slowly, it appears, inching their way back to mediocrity. Their 80 points last season are the most in the post-Mike Ilitch era.

But, even the young players are no guarantee of success. The NHL is a league built on speed and passing, and the Wings are in need of both, and must find a top-tier goaltender.

General manager Steve Yzerman has built a championship team. Unfortunately for Detroit hockey fans who worship The Captain, he did it in Tampa. Now, Stevie Y is trying to remake the Wings into a leaner, quicker, and tougher team. It’s probable that he will have success.

A return to the playoffs, and maybe a new playoff streak, could be on the horizon.

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