by Ron Spence
In 1999, ESPN.com compiled a list of the Top Ten Sports Teams from the Twentieth Century.
In the eras of Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Joe Namath, etc., which teams did ESPN choose as the best overall?
And, if a hockey team made the list, which team and season would it be?
ESPN selected the 1927 New York Yankees as the best team of the Twentieth Century.
They believed that the 1985 Chicago Bears were number 3, the 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers number 4, the 1972 L.A. Lakers number 5, the 1996 Chicago Bulls number 9, and the 1972 Miami Dolphins number 10.
ESPN.com argued that the 1977 Montreal Canadiens were the second best sports team in the Twentieth Century:
“The second of four straight Stanley Cup champions from 1976-79, the ’77 Canadiens went 60-8-12 to finish with a record 132 points. They went 12-2 in the playoffs, sweeping the Boston Bruins for the title. Montreal dominated both phases of the game as Guy Lafleur and Steve Shutt ranked first and third in points and Michel Larocque and Ken Dryden ranked first and second in goaltending. Dryden had 41 wins and 10 shutouts. Eight members of the team are in the Hockey Hall of Fame as is coach Scotty Bowman.”
The readers didn’t agree with the panel, however, voting the ’77 Habs sixth out of the Top Ten. They agreed with ESPN’S 1st and 3rd choices, but thought that the 1996 Chicago Bulls should be 2nd.
Had ESPN done a Top 15, they would have included the 1956 Montreal Canadiens as well (“Won league by 24 points. So potent on offense, NHL changed power play rule.”).