Warning: apc_store(): Potential cache slam averted for key 'w3tc_blogs.thescore.com_4_object_69be6f0f58698dc437fd681ecbdd920c' in /opt/blogs/wp-content/plugins/w3-total-cache/lib/W3/Cache/Apc.php on line 41 A Cup of Joe In the Morning – Parity In the NHL | Backhand Shelf | Blogs | theScore.com

The Kings cruising through the Western Conference playoffs in just 14 games gives us ample time (another week) to reflect on how dominant they’ve been ahead of the Stanley Cup Final, but I’ve already done enough of that recently.

What I randomly started thinking about as the Kings celebrated last night was the level of parity in the NHL.

Since the lockout, 12 different teams have advanced to the Stanley Cup Final in seven seasons (including whoever emerges between the Devils and Rangers) and if the Devils aren’t crowned Stanley Cup champions in a few weeks, we will have a ninth different championship team in the last nine years.

Compare that to the NBA, where only eight different teams have won the last 28 championships, or even the pretty balanced NFL, where only five teams have won the last seven Super Bowls, and it really puts it into perspective for you.

Major League Baseball has seen great parity in terms of World Series won since the turn of the century, but even they’ve seen a couple of teams win multiple titles in the last eight years.

Heck, in the last seven NHL seasons, 19 different teams have appeared in the Conference Finals. That’s about two-thirds of the league being within four wins of the Final at some point within the last seven years.

Maybe you don’t even enjoy that variety, since a lot of people tend to like the allure of dynasties and legacies, but you can’t deny that the modern day NHL is on a run of parity that is unprecedented in pro sports.

At this rate, even us Leafs fans have reason to believe our turn will come…

Now here are your morning links:

  • Post-Gretzky, the Kings are truly back in the spotlight (FOX Sports West). And with the Lakers and Clippers done for the season, the Kings will have the Staples Center all to themselves.
  • The Kings’ season is destined to become a touchstone (Los Angeles Times).
  • The Kings and Coyotes differ sharply on Dustin Brown’s hit on Michal Rozsival (NHL.com). For my money, it looked like Brown was initially trying to deliver a clean hit, but knees unfortunately collided.
  • Mike Milbury and Jeremy Roenick disagree over the Brown hit (Puck Daddy). The fact that the play in question took place just moments before the series ended made for a tense handshake line.
  • The bitter series ending for the Coyotes shouldn’t overshadow the bigger picture (The Arizona Republic). Lots of talk in there about boosting the team’s exposure and picking up new fans. It may be true, but it’s naive of anyone to believe it before seeing an actual difference in the regular season next year.
  • While some of his players complain about the officiating, Dave Tippett saysL.A. beat us. That’s what should be remembered, not the refereeing” (NBC Sports).
  • The series may be tied, but the Rangers are back on their heels (The StarPhoenix). It’s tough to say they’re back on their heels when as the article points out, the Rangers have been in this exact situation (win Game 1, lose Game 2, win Game 3, lose Game 4) three times now this post-season.
  • The Devils defencemen live in a long shadow, but are making names for themselves against the Rangers (The Star-Ledger).
  • The Cup Final schedule has been set (Sporting News). Game 1 goes on Wednesday, May 30 in either New York or New Jersey, with the series ending no later than June 13. The games will all be played on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
  • Kevin Lowe is mum on the Oilers’ coaching situation (The Edmonton Journal). Brent Sutter is considered a front-runner, though Lowe won’t say much.
  • Jay Feaster says the Flames’ coaching search is in the “middle innings” (Calgary Herald).
  • Jets co-owner Mark Chipman gave $100,000 to the charitable and support causes of the Royal Canadian Air Force on Tuesday (Winnipeg Free Press). It’s just the first installment of a $1 million donation.