The Drought turns 14: Bridgeport’s playoffs in context

The Sound Tigers last won a playoff series in 2003.

Since then, each of the other 29 franchises in the league has won at least one series. Lake Erie was the last team left ahead of them, and the Monsters won the Calder Cup last year. Only two franchises, San Antonio and Tucson, have gone longer without a win in a best-of-7, which Bridgeport last accomplished in the 2002 Eastern Conference Final. Neither the Rampage nor the Roadrunners made the playoffs this year, so those droughts roll on, too.

In 2015, with the seven moved franchises and whaddaya-do-with-Hamiltons, we gave up on the long list of Things That Had Happened Since Then in favor of shorter lists. (2016 wasn’t much help.) Hopefully the short lists put things in context, sort of.

(Worth noting: It is harder now to win a best-of-7 than it was for most of the era in question, since the first round has been best-of-5 since 2012 and only four teams can win a best-of-7 every year. Still, as of 2016, of those 20 chances, 13 different teams have done it.)

Edit, April 18: Jason Chaimovitch notes that Bridgeport’s 14-year playoff-series drought ties a league record. The Springfield Indians won the Calder Cup in 1975 and in 1990, and in between the franchise didn’t win a playoff series. (Looking them up, the Indians missed the playoffs 10 times in that span and lost four playoff series, swept twice, losing 4-3 and 3-1. It won those three games in 1981 and didn’t win another playoff game until 1990. So the Sound Tigers at least have that going for them.)

Some bits that used to be footnotes:

  • The Phantoms franchise, treated as a single entity by the league, has made the playoffs for the first time since it left Philadelphia in 2009. Its last playoff-series win was the year before.
  • As parent clubs, only Colorado (2002) and Phoenix (earlier 2003) have longer farm-club playoff droughts than the Islanders’. And since that’s San Antonio and Tucson, those continue.
  • Rochester hasn’t won a playoff series since 2005?
  • Remember when all this used to take up, like, a paragraph in the wrap?

1. Bridgeport 2003. 2. Rochester 2005. 3. Lehigh Valley* (as Philadelphia) 2008. 4. San Jose* (as Worcester Sharks) 2010. 5. Springfield Thunderbirds* (as Portland), Binghamton, St. John’s^ (as Hamilton), Milwaukee, Iowa* (as Houston), Charlotte 2011. 11. San Antonio, Stockton* (as Abbotsford – none in Adirondack) 2012. 13. Tucson* (as Springfield), Syracuse 2013. 15. Manitoba^ (as St. John’s), Providence, Chicago, Texas 2014. 19. Hartford, Rockford, Utica, Bakersfield* (as Oklahoma City) 2015. 23. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Grand Rapids, Albany#, San Diego, Ontario, Toronto, Hershey, Cleveland 2016.

1. San Antonio* (as Adirondack Red Wings) 1994. 2. Tucson* (as Springfield) 1997. 3. Bridgeport 2002. 4. Rochester, Albany# (as Lowell Lock Monsters) 2005. 6. Lehigh Valley* (as Philadelphia), Rockford 2008. 8. Providence 2009. 9. Stockton* (as Abbotsford – none in Adirondack), San Jose* (as Worcester Sharks), Chicago 2010. 12. Iowa* (as Houston), Charlotte, Milwaukee, St. John’s^ (as Hamilton), Springfield Thunderbirds* (as Portland), Binghamton 2011. 18. San Diego* (as Norfolk) 2012. 19. Syracuse, Bakersfield* (as Oklahoma City) 2013. 21. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Manitoba^ (as St. John’s), Texas 2014. 24. Hartford, Utica, Grand Rapids 2015. 27. Ontario, Toronto, Hershey, Cleveland 2016.

*-Has not won in current hometown
#-Devils franchise hadn’t won since Lowell in 2005 (as a Carolina/Calgary affiliate) until a first-round win in 2016, but the Albany River Rats (now Charlotte) won there in 2010. A New Jersey affiliate hadn’t won a playoff round since 1998.
^-What’s in the list follows the moves of the actual franchises. The AHL treats them differently, with the IceCaps continuous, the Moose reborn after a hiatus, and the Bulldogs uninvolved. The IceCaps, under the league’s reckoning, won in St. John’s in 2014. Manitoba won in 2011, its last year before hiatus.

Michael Fornabaio