Posted 06/16/2009 at 03:20 PM
Teams that lose in the championship game or round in sports rarely fare as well the next season. Super Bowl losers often fail to make the playoffs the following season which has been the case in most recent examples. Not since Super Bowl VII has a team lost the Super Bowl than won the next season, that year was of course Miami's perfect season. That Dolphins team would again win the Super Bowl the next season.
The Oakland A's did it in 1989 after losing to the Dodgers in 1988 and the New York Yankees did in 1977 but there are few recent examples of what the Lakers and the Penguins just pulled off. The Pistons accomplished it 1989 but it really is a rare accomplishment, especially in this day and age where free agency and trades can greatly change teams. In the NHL it had not happened since 1984 in the first of five Stanely Cups for the Oilers in the decade.
Looking at this year's championship losers the trend doesn't seem so unreasonable to repeat. The Detroit Red Wings were heavy favorites in this year's finals and were the previous champion so expecting them to make a return to the top would not be a unfounded. The Magic are a young team that could lose a few pieces but still should be considered one of the five or six teams that has a chance to win it all.
The Tampa Bay Rays have had a medicore start to the season and do not appear playoff bound despite retaining most of last year's squad. The Rays will have a very tough time getting to the playoffs with Boston and New York playing well in the AL East. The biggest surprise would be if the Arizona Cardinals somehow made it back to the Super Bowl and won. At first glance that would be a shock since it was such a surprise run for the team last year. A closer look shows that Arizona is in a fairly weak NFC West division however and the NFC lacks a true favorite at this point so there is a reasonably good chance that another playoff trip would be in the works.
It truly shows great resolve by the coaches and players on the Lakers and Penguins to overcome getting so close and keeping the focus so strong. Congratulations to both champions in an exciting close to the spring sports season.