Los Angeles Kings and 5 Other Low Seeds That Defied the Odds to Win Championships
The eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings made history with their victory against the New Jersey Devils becoming the lowest seed ever to win a Stanley Cup. Previously, the title was held by the 1995 Devils, who won as a fifth seed.
While Cinderellas and underdogs have long been crowd pleasers, they don’t often turn into title winners. Here’s a look back at the company the Kings now keep in other professional sports:
1997 FLORIDA MARLINS
Even thought they finished with a 92-70 regular season record, nobody gave this young Marlins team a chance in the playoffs. They would go on to become the first wild card team to win the World Series when they knocked off the Indians in a tight Game 7. After sweeping the Giants in the first round, they took care of Atlanta next behind the sensational pitching of Livan Hernandez. During their postseason run, the Marlins came from behind to capture eight of their 11 total wins. The Marlins would wind up repeating this effort in 2003 when they again won the World Series as a wild card.
1995 HOUSTON ROCKETS
Despite winning the title the previous year, the Rockets struggled in 1994-95 and only got into the post-season as a six seed. To get the crown, the Rockets had to beat four 50-win teams, including a sweep of the Magic in the finals. In the second round, Houston battled back from down 3-1 to the Suns to take that series. But the veteran leadership of Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler helped guide the Rockets against their intimidating foes.
1985 VILLANOVA WILDCATS
This eight seed is known as one of the great Cinderella stories in sports history. It was also the first year the field was expanded to 64 teams. Villanova took home the title after a final game upset 66–64 over Georgetown. Along the way, ‘Nova took out powerhouses Michigan, North Carolina, and Memphis State. Georgetown had Patrick Ewing front and center, and the Wildcats had Ed Pinckney to fight back. Villanova rallied behind incredible shooting from the field (22 of 28).
1980 OAKLAND RAIDERS
It was a rather improbable run, especially considering the team was missing starting QB Dan Patrorini after the fifth game. Washed-up vet Jim Plunkett came off the bench for Oakland and saved the season with nine victories in 11 starts to get the Raiders to the postseason as a wild card. They battled through the postseason and reached the Super Bowl against the Eagles, winning 27-10. Plunkett was named MVP.
2006 ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
What World Series-winning team had the worst regular season record leading up the title? That distinction belongs to the ’06 Cards, which went a paltry 83-78, yet good enough to get them into the playoffs as the NL Central division winner. After a season rattled with injuries and other setbacks, the team kicked it into another gear in the playoffs, beating the Padres and Mets before knocking off the Tigers in the World Series. The Tigers, by comparison, had won 95 regular season games. Yet the Cardinals won it in five games.