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Claimed:VHL Franchises' Worst Stretches, Part 3

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Author's Note: Kind of wanted to learn about the history of the league a little bit more, so decided to do a series of medias that required some digging. Sorry if some stuff is off, relied exclusively on old indexes here. Part 1 and Part 2.





Six teams down, two original VHL franchises to go – our look at the worst team stretches in VHL history concludes here.


Davos and Vasteras seem like polar opposites in terms of franchises. Davos is tied for the most championships in VHL history with 7; Vasteras is tied for the least among the original franchises with 2. Davos has made the playoffs 20 times in 35 seasons and will seemingly tie Calgary atop the charts after this season; Vasteras has made the playoffs just 13 times, or four less than any other original team. Since going back to back in Season 1 and 2, Vasteras has made the finals just twice; Davos has made the finals 10 times in that span.


When looking at the two teams’ lowest points, as with fits with tradition, Davos and Vasteras came about dark times in completely different ways as well. Davos simply let their older stars retire and didn’t have the pieces to reload, while Vasteras tried to reload and failed miserably.



HC Davos Dynamo


Longest Playoff Drought: Four seasons, S2-S5 and S15-S18


The Season Before: It may seem odd now looking back, but the Dynamo weren’t exactly a powerhouse in the early days of the VHL. Through the Amstel/Avangard/Davos franchise’s first 18 seasons, the team made the playoffs just seven times, a paltry 38 percent success rate that was only outmatched by Hamilton/New York at the time. However, if there were good times it came in Seasons 10 through 14, with playoff berths in four of five seasons. S10 and S13 saw Davos win the franchise’s second and third championships as well. By S14, however, the wheels were starting to fall off. Sure, they had Benoit Devereux’s second-best .921 save percentage, Leander Kaelin’s VHL-leading 46 goals, and Tomas Jensovic’s VHL-leading 78 assists, but Helsinki bested Davos by two points in the standings and defeated them in the first round of the playoffs.


What Happened: Strangely enough, it wasn’t a sell-off that doomed Davos like it did other teams. Those three S14 stars I mentioned? They were all there in S15 as well, and Devereux even survived to S16. They just didn’t have the same production they once did. Not a single Davos player finished in the top nine in goals or assists in S15 (three had done so in each category the season before), while Devereux’s save percentage dipped to .916 in S15 and .910 in S16. Davos’ S15 through S18 is a textbook case of a team that hung onto its stars into retirement for a chance to win one more without reloading, and it haunted the franchise for four seasons when depreciation finally caught up to them.


The Season After: But of course, Davos’ S15 through S18 was also a textbook study in bottoming out in exchange for future glory, a pattern that VHL teams would soon emulate all the way up until the modern age. Starting in Season 19, Davos would make the playoffs a then-unprecedented seven straight seasons, a feat that would be matched by Toronto step-for-step. That first season, it was the two-headed monster of left winger Marek Schultz and defenseman Patrick Bergvist who would lead Davos to glory; the two finished second and fifth, respectively, in scoring. But in the long-term, it was goalie Daisuke Kanou who held the team together with his incredible run in net. Although Kanou only finished third in save percentage and sixth in shutouts during that S19 season… well, let’s just say there’s a reason he’s a Hall of Famer.




Vasteras Iron Eagles


Longest Playoff Drought: Six seasons, S19-S24


The Season Before: Just as Davos was mired in the muck in its own streak, the Vasteras franchise was enjoying what was perhaps the best mini-stretch for the franchise since its back-to-back finals appearances in S1 and S2, and perhaps oddly, it came while the Iron Eagles weren’t even in their historical home. While branded the Madrid Thunder, the franchise made the playoffs in both S17 and S18, one of two European Conference participants along with the Riga Reign. In S18, Madrid finished with the best record in the VHL, storming to the finals behind Zach Voss’s VHL-leading .925 save percentage and David Henman’s VHL-leading 97 assists. But when they got to the finals, the team lost to Calgary in six games, thus continuing a streak of futility that at that time had last 17 seasons.


What Happened: And the futility would continue to occur, thanks to a complete overhaul that didn’t exactly work as planned. Zach Voss took over as GM in S19 from the successful Zach Arce, and seeing as Voss’s own goalie retired following S18, he decided to ship out the rest of the team to build around him. Gone were Henman and the other stars. And in their place was rookie Gordon Shore, who finished with 42 goals in S19, and… well, that’s about it, really. After Shore eventually flamed out and was off the team by S22, the Madrid/Vasteras franchise could get simply nothing going on offense. Not a single Madrid/Vasteras player finished in the top ten in either goals or assists until Lars Berger in S24.


The Season After: Vasteras began to show signs of life in S24, especially with Berger finishing just one goal behind the VHL lead with 57 in S24. Berger didn’t have much help offensively, however. But that lack of offense changed in S25, despite Lars Berger’s retirement. Lasse Milo led all centers with 108 points, James Bencharski finished third among defensemen with 101 points, and Peyton Nedroj finished eighth in goals scored with 46. Despite Andreas Bjorkman’s average goaltending, Vasteras finished second in the European Conference with 101 points, just one point behind now-fading Davos. The next season, Vasteras would win its second Cup, its first since S1 and its last up until the present time.

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Content: 3/3 - Over 900 words. Very nice! Being new to the league, it was quite interesting to read about the history of two teams that I constantly see on the forums. Thanks for the dip into VHL history!

Grammar: 2/2 - Not many.

Appearance: 1/1 - Instead of just having a series of paragraph after paragraph, you should have put an action picture w/ a caption in between paragraphs. Otherwise it looks good!

Overall: 6/6

Edited by d3vilsfire
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