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What Does It Really Take To Win A Stanley Cup?

Posted by: Dr. Granat on June 16, 2010

Several months ago, Carlton Chin, my coauthor and I completed a book called

Who Will Win The Big Game? 50 Championship Characteristics. This book identifies

the factors which empower coaches, teams and athletes to perform well in big games.

We predicted the winner of the last Super Bowl and the book was featured in

The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Now we are utilizing the same

psychological and mathematical methodology to help teams, coaches, athletes, owners

and athletic directors build quality organizations.

We are also using the methodology which we developed to predict the winner of

The Stanley Cup.

Carlton, who is a MIT trained quant and a manager of a hedge fund crunched the

numbers once again. Here is what our research shows:

Over the past 30 years, the team with the better offensive star, measured by

points scored, has gone 19-11 (63.3%) in Stanley Cup Finals. This factor favors the

Black Hawks, and Patrick Kane (88 points) over the Flyers and Mike Richards (62


We note, however, that generally, during hard-checking and physical playoff hockey,

defense and goalies who are “in the zone” are major determinants of the eventual


The exception to the rule is when you have a standout offensive leader like Wayne

Gretzky. “The Great One” ushered in a period of high-powered NHL scoring from the

mid-80’s to the mid-90’s. During this time, offensive leaders were more easily able to

“lead’ and “will” their way to championships. Gretzky led his Edmonton Oilers to several

Stanley Cups, and then Mario Lemieux did the same for his Pittsburgh Penguins.

In less “high-powered” offensive times, defense and a good goalie have been key to

winning the Stanley Cup. Over the past 30 years, teams with the better goalie save

percentage have gone 18-11 (62.2%). Over recent years, since the high-scoring period of

the mid-80’s to the mid-90’s, teams with the better save percentage have gone:

· 3-0 over the last 4 years (teams had the same save percentage one year),

· 6-1 over the last 8 years,

· and 13-4 over the last 18 years.

This factor favors the Philadelphia Flyers with their .907 save percentage versus the

Chicago Black Hawks and their .903 save percentage. Another factor in the Flyers’ favor

is coach Peter Laviolette’s Stanley Cup Championship as coach of the 2006 Carolina

Hurricanes. This is Black Hawk coach Joel Quenneville’s first appearance as coach in

the Stanley Cup Finals. Our research has shown that experienced coaches tend to do well

in big games like this one.

Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is a Psychotherapist in River Edge, NJ and the Founder of and

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