jeudi 13 novembre 2014

Analyzing The Average Age of Stanley Cup Winning Teams


Source : Sportingcharts.com

There are numerous factors involved in determining why any sports team wins or loses their league title. One of these is often the age of the players or their years of experience. Do younger teams really have to mature and grow together before they can become championship calibre teams? What if your team is too old? At what point does father time catch up with a team and experience becomes a negative instead of a positive?

There is no one perfect answer to this question, but we thought it would be interesting to examine the average age of teams who have won the Stanley Cup and see what we find.

The following numbers are based off of only players who actually played in the playoffs for each team. The age of each player is based on Feb. 1 of the year that the playoffs took place.
I decided to start my calculations with the year the Conn Smythe Trophy was first awarded, the 1964-65 season. This gives us 48 seasons of data to work with. Let's get right to the results and see how things shake out….

Rank Team Year Average Age
1 Montreal Canadiens 1985-86 24.48
2 Edmonton Oilers 1983-84 25.17
3 Montreal Canadiens 1992-93 25.18
4 New York Islanders 1979-80 25.45
5 Montreal Canadiens 1975-76 25.53
6 New York Islanders 1981-82 25.59
7 Boston Bruins 1969-70 25.67
8 Montreal Canadiens 1976-77 25.68
9 New York Islanders 1980-81 25.7
10 Montreal Canadiens 1978-79 25.78
11 Philadelphia Flyers 1973-74 25.82
12 Edmonton Oilers 1987-88 25.86
13 Edmonton Oilers 1989-90 25.88
14 Edmonton Oilers 1986-87 25.92
15 Edmonton Oilers 1984-85 25.96
16 Montreal Canadiens 1977-78 26.05
17 New York Islanders 1982-83 26.17
18 Los Angeles Kings 2011-12 26.18
19 Montreal Canadiens 1972-73 26.2
20 Chicago Blackhawks 2009-10 26.42
21 Calgary Flames 1988-89 26.6
22 Philadelphia Flyers 1974-75 26.67
23 Colorado Avalanche 1995-96 26.67
24 Montreal Canadiens 1970-71 26.81
25 Pittsburgh Penguins 1990-91 26.83
26 Chicago Blackhawks 2012-13 26.91
27 Montreal Canadiens 1964-65 27.05
28 New Jersey Devils 1994-95 27.33
29 Colorado Avalanche 2000-01 27.39
30 Montreal Canadiens 1967-68 27.48
31 New Jersey Devils 1999-00 27.59
32 Anaheim Ducks 2006-07 27.71
33 Tampa Bay Lightening 2003-04 27.83
34 Pittsburgh Penguins 1991-92 27.88
35 Montreal Canadiens 1965-66 28.16
36 Pittsburgh Penguins 2008-09 28.35
37 Detroit Red Wings 1996-97 28.39
38 Boston Bruins 1971-72 28.4
39 Montreal Canadiens 1968-69 28.55
40 Boston Bruins 2010-11 28.57
41 New York Rangers 1993-94 28.78
42 Detroit Red Wings 1997-98 28.92
43 Carolina Hurricanes 2005-06 29.3
44 New Jersey Devils 2002-03 29.36
45 Dallas Stars 1998-99 29.68
46 Toronto Maple Leafs 1966-67 30.67
47 Detroit Red Wings 2001-02 31.17
48 Detroit Red Wings 2007-08 31.7

The youngest team to ever win the Stanley Cup is none other than the 1985-86 Montreal Canadiens, lead by a 20 year old rookie goalie named Patrick Roy. Claude Lemieux was also only 20 years old while other youngsters included Chris Chelios (24), Brian Skrudland (22) and Guy Carbonneau (25). The only players over 30 on this roster were Larry Robinson (34) and Bob Gainey (32).

Five out of the top 15 youngest teams belong to the Edmonton Oilers (2nd, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th). Wayne Gretzky lead most of these teams to the title in the 1980's with their first title coming when he was only 23 years old. In fact, their top 5 scorers during their first victorious playoff run were all 23 years of age or younger (Gretzky, Kurri, Messier, Coffey, Anderson).

The two oldest teams belong to the Detroit Red Wings who consistently put together very experienced teams through out the 2000's. The oldest team, in 2007-08, was lead by a younger core, but was filled with aging veterans like Dominik Hasek (46), Chris Chelios (43), Nicklas Lidstrom (37), Kris Draper (36) and Darren McCarty (35).

The average age of the Stanley Cup winning teams in the last 48 years is 27.2. Only 3 teams in the last 18 years are under the average age (2011-12 Kings, 2009-10 Blackhawks and 2012-13 Blackhawks). Some might find it interesting that the 2008-09 Pittsburgh Penguins are ranked so low considering they were lead by Sidney Crosby (21), Evgeni Malkin (22) and Marc-Andre Fleury (24). Their core players were obviously very young, but the roster was filled with veterans like Bill Guerin (38), Sergei Gonchar (34), Miroslav Satan (34) and Hal Gill (33).

The first chart takes into consideration every single player who played during the playoffs, but what if we tried to remove the fringe players and focus on the core players of each team? The following chart shows the average age of the top 10 players from each team (top 9 scorers plus the goalie). This is not an exact science as you can argue that some defensemen should be included in the core even though they aren't among the scoring leaders, but for the purpose of this study I think it should give a pretty good indication of what we're looking for.

Top 10 Players Only Avg. Age For Entire Team Difference
Rank Team  Year Average Age
1 Montreal Canadiens 1992-93 24.5 25.18 -0.68
2 Edmonton Oilers 1984-85 24.5 25.96 -1.46
3 Philadelphia Flyers 1973-74 24.5 25.82 -1.32
4 Edmonton Oilers 1983-84 24.6 25.17 -0.57
5 Chicago Blackhawks 2009-10 24.7 26.42 -1.72
6 Edmonton Oilers 1987-88 25.5 25.86 -0.36
7 Montreal Canadiens 1985-86 25.5 24.48 1.02
8 New York Islanders 1979-80 25.5 25.45 0.05
9 Pittsburgh Penguins 1991-92 25.6 27.88 -2.28
10 Los Angeles Kings 2011-12 25.8 26.18 -0.38
11 Edmonton Oilers 1989-90 25.9 25.88 0.02
12 Philadelphia Flyers 1974-75 26.0 26.67 -0.67
13 Pittsburgh Penguins 1990-91 26.1 26.83 -0.73
14 Colorado Avalanche 1995-96 26.2 26.67 -0.47
15 Calgary Flames 1988-89 26.3 26.6 -0.3
16 Edmonton Oilers 1986-87 26.3 25.92 0.38
17 Pittsburgh Penguins 2008-09 26.5 28.35 -1.85
18 New York Islanders 1980-81 26.5 25.7 0.8
19 New York Rangers 1993-94 26.6 28.78 -2.18
20 New Jersey Devils 1999-00 26.8 27.59 -0.79
21 New York Islanders 1982-83 26.8 26.17 0.63
22 New Jersey Devils 1994-95 26.9 27.33 -0.43
23 Montreal Canadiens 1977-78 26.9 26.05 0.85
24 Montreal Canadiens 1976-77 26.9 25.68 1.22
25 Montreal Canadiens 1975-76 27.2 25.53 1.67
26 New York Islanders 1981-82 27.5 25.59 1.91
27 Montreal Canadiens 1972-73 27.5 26.2 1.3
28 Boston Bruins 1969-70 27.55 25.67 1.88
29 Chicago Blackhawks 2012-13 27.6 26.91 0.69
30 Montreal Canadiens 1965-66 28.1 28.16 -0.06
31 New Jersey Devils 2002-03 28.3 29.36 -1.06
32 Montreal Canadiens 1978-79 28.3 25.78 2.52
33 Montreal Canadiens 1964-65 28.36 27.05 1.31
34 Boston Bruins 2010-11 28.4 28.57 -0.17
35 Detroit Red Wings 1997-98 28.4 28.92 -0.52
36 Colorado Avalanche 2000-01 28.5 27.39 1.11
37 Anaheim Ducks 2006-07 28.6 27.71 0.89
38 Tampa Bay Lightning 2003-04 28.7 27.83 0.87
39 Detroit Red Wings 1996-97 28.7 28.39 0.31
40 Montreal Canadiens 1968-69 29.36 28.55 0.81
41 Dallas Stars 1998-99 29.4 29.68 -0.28
42 Toronto Maple Leafs 1966-67 29.5 30.67 -1.17
43 Boston Bruins 1971-72 29.73 28.4 1.33
44 Montreal Canadiens 1970-71 29.8 26.81 2.99
45 Carolina Hurricanes 2005-06 29.9 29.3 0.6
46 Montreal Canadiens 1967-68 30.4 27.48 2.92
47 Detroit Red Wings 2007-08 30.7 31.7 -1
48 Detroit Red Wings 2001-02 35.1 31.17 3.93

What really sticks out here is how the average age jumps up dramatically for the 2001-02 Detroit Red Wings. The core players average is almost 4 years higher than the entire team. This team was centered around veterans like Chris Chelios (40), Brett Hull (37), Dominik Hasek (37), Steve Yzerman (36) and Luc Robitaille (35). One of the few youngsters on this team was Pavel Datsyuk (23).

On the opposite side of the spectrum is the 1991-92 Pittsburgh Penguins where the core players were 2.28 years younger than their team average. This team was lead by Mario Lemieux (26), Kevin Stevens (26), Tom Barrasso (26) and Jaromir Jagr (19).

So how big of a role does age really play? I don't think we can really say for sure as the results show a wide range. What we do know is that no team is really too young or too old. What really matters are how well they play as a team and which team gets hot at the right time.

Which teams surprised you the most on this list? Let us know in the comments below.