Maple Leafs, Sabres part of title drought blues chorus

When the St. Louis Blues defeated the Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final in Boston on Wednesday night, it was the team’s first title. After the 4-1 win, Blues fans celebrated a championship they had been waiting for since coming into the NHL in 1967. A year ago, the Washington Capitals, in the league since 1974, also lifted the Cup for the first time.

But joy in St. Louis and Washington has brought little consolation to fans of teams such as the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Vancouver Canucks and the Buffalo Sabres, who could only sigh and add another year to their own long championship droughts.

When the Leafs last won the Cup, in 1967, players and fans must have foreseen good things ahead. The team had won its fourth championship in six seasons and had 13 Cups in all, dating to 1918, when the team was so new it did not yet have a nickname. Since then, however, the Maple Leafs have not earned a return to the final.

Although their droughts are a little shorter, the Canucks and the Sabres cannot look back at a glorious past; neither team has won a championship since joining the league in 1970.

The Sabres have made the final twice; the Canucks three times. After losing Game 7 the last time, in 2011, angry Vancouver fans rioted, burning cars and looting stores.


Neither of those teams seem on the cusp of turning it around: The Canucks have missed the playoffs four straight years and the Sabres eight.

No sport lacks a long-suffering fan base. Ask Cleveland baseball fans, whose team (last title: 1948) has taken over from the Cubs as baseball’s lovable losers after Chicago finally won a World Series in 2016. Beating, ouch, Cleveland.

In the NFL, the Arizona Cardinals last won a title in 1947, although they have played in different cities; the Detroit Lions have the longest drought, since 1957, of teams that have stayed put.

The Rochester Royals enjoyed an NBA title in 1951. Then they became the Cincinnati Royals, the Kansas City (and Kansas City-Omaha) Kings and finally the Sacramento Kings. No further titles, though. The Suns have stayed in sunny Phoenix since being founded in 1968. But they haven’t won a championship.

Of the teams in the inaugural Major League Soccer season in 1996, the New England Revolution, F.C. Dallas and the New York Red Bulls have never won the MLS Cup. Each has won a Supporters’ Shield or U.S. Open Cup, though.

The New York Liberty and the Utah Starzz/San Antonio (Silver) Stars/Las Vegas Aces franchise have been in the WNBA since the beginning, in 1997, without a title.

Once we open up the competition to the rest of the world, there are plenty more droughts to consider. A couple of notable ones from England: Fulham was founded in London in 1879. It is still seeking its first major title, although it has won the second division.

And three teams have never won the County Championship in cricket: Northamptonshire, which joined in 1905; Somerset, 1891; and Gloucester, 1890. But just ask the Blues: There is always hope. At this writing, Somerset is in first place.

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