The so-called “Big Four” leagues have something very important that differentiates them from other sports: standings. It is an empirical measure of how much value is assigned to a particular team’s effort. Whether it’s a direct comparison (like measuring “games behind”) such as basketball and baseball, or whether it’s assigning points for particular results such as hockey (and any self-respecting soccer league), results are tracked and compared to determine champions.
What happens when we adopt a system similar to a combat sport such as boxing, mixed martial arts, or wrestling? Where every game played is a chance to defend your title, who is currently the “Unofficial” Stanley Cup champion?
On June 13, 2014, the Los Angeles Kings raised the Stanley Cup, therefore, they began their title defense when the puck officially dropped for the first time on October 8, 2014.
On opening night, the Kings dropped their first game against the San Jose Sharks, making them the unofficial Stanley Cup Champions. The Chart that follows is a track record of who the unofficial champ is. Some rules: overtime and shootout losses do count as losses, and therefore, when a team loses, regardless of when in the game they lose, they relinquish the unofficial title.
|Team||Date won||Date lost||Result||Length of Reign|
|Los Angeles Kings||June 13, 2014||October 8, 2014||4-0 loss to San Jose Sharks||117 days, 0 successful defenses|
|San Jose Sharks||October 8, 2014||October 16, 2014||4-3 shootout loss to New York Islanders||8 days, 2 successful defenses|
|New York Islanders||October 16, 2014||October 18, 2014||3-1 loss to Pittsburgh Penguins||2 days, 0 successful defenses|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||October 18, 2014||October 22, 2014||5-3 loss to Philadelphia Flyers||4 days, 0 successful defenses|
|Philadelphia Flyers||October 22, 2014||October 30, 2014||4-3 loss to Tampa Bay Lightning||8 days, 2 successful defenses|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||October 30, 2014||November 11, 2014||3-2 shootout loss to Chicago Blackhawks||12 days, 4 successful defenses|
|Chicago Blackhawks||November 11, 2014||November 14, 2014||4-1 loss to Detroit Red Wings||3 days, 0 successful defenses|
|Detroit Red Wings||November 14, 2014||November 16, 2014||4-1 loss to Montreal Canadiens||2 days, 0 successful defenses|
|Montreal Canadiens||November 16, 2014||November 18, 2014||4-0 loss to Pittsburgh Penguins||2 days, 0 successful defenses|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||November 18, 2014||November 21, 2014||5-4 shootout loss to New York Islanders||3 days, 0 successful defenses|
|New York Islanders||November 21, 2014||November 28, 2014||5-2 loss to Washington Capitals||7 days, 3 successful defenses|
|Washington Capitals||November 28, 2014||November 29, 2014||6-2 loss to Toronto Maple Leafs||1 day, 0 successful defenses|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||November 29, 2014||December 4, 2014||5-3 loss to New Jersey Devils||5 days, 1 successful defense|
|New Jersey Devils||December 4, 2014||December 6, 2014||4-1 loss to Washington Capitals||2 days, 0 successful defenses|
|Washington Capitals||December 6, 2014||December 11, 2014||3-2 overtime loss to Columbus Blue Jackets||5 days, 1 successful defense|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||December 11, 2014||December 18, 2014||5-4 overtime loss to Washington Capitals||7 days, 2 successful defenses|
|Washington Capitals||December 18, 2014||December 23, 2014||4-2 loss to New York Rangers||5 days, 2 successful defenses|
|New York Rangers||December 23, 2014||December 29, 2014||3-2 loss to Dallas Stars||6 days, 1 successful defense|
|Dallas Stars||December 29, 2014||Present||2 successful defenses so far|
So there you have it. The current unofficial Stanley Cup Champion is the Dallas Stars, though their reign will once again be tested tonight when they face off against the Chicago Blackhawks. As you can see, there was a lengthy period of time in which the unofficial title swung around Eastern Conference teams, so now Western Conference teams may get a shot to pass around the Stanley Cup “belt.” Prior to the start of the playoffs, we will reconvene to do another one of these and see who the unofficial Stanley Cup Champion is going into the playoffs.