Special Report

Once Great Sports Franchises That Have Fallen on Hard Times

Source: Elsa / Getty Images

6. Detroit Tigers
> League: MLB
> Most recent playoff appearance: 2014
> Total championships (most recent): 4 (1984)
> Recent playoff performance: last postseason series victory was in 2013

The Detroit Tigers missed their championship window in the early 2010s and are now in the midst of a rebuild. All-star players like Miguel Cabrera, Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander powered Detroit to four straight postseasons from 2011-2014. Detroit made the World Series just once in that stretch, getting swept by the San Francisco Giants in 2012. Detroit’s record has declined every season since 2016, posting a 47-114 record in 2019 — the second worst in the Tigers’ 119-year history.

Source: Minas Panagiotakis / Getty Images

5. Montreal Canadiens
> League: NHL
> Most recent playoff appearance: 2017
> Total championships (most recent): 25 (1993)
> Recent playoff performance: one postseason appearance since 2015

Prior to the 2000s, the Montreal Canadiens won at least one championship in every decade since the beginning of the NHL in the 1910s, earning 25 in total. But the Habs have not won a Stanley Cup since 1993. In fact, Montreal has not even made it to the Stanley Cup Finals since that season, only making it as far as the conference finals twice. The Habs used to go decades without missing the playoffs, but their most recent playoff appearance was in 2017 and ended in a first round loss.

Source: Joe Robbins / Getty Images

4. Cincinnati Reds
> League: MLB
> Most recent playoff appearance: 2013
> Total championships (most recent): 5 (1990)
> Recent playoff performance: one postseason series win since 1990

Cincinnati’s “Big Red Machine” dominated baseball throughout the 1970s, making the postseason six times and winning two World Series. Their next postseason appearance in 1990 netted the Reds their fifth championship. Since then, Cincinnati has only won a single postseason series in four playoff trips — the 1995 NLDS. The Reds were swept out of the 2010 NLDS, beaten in the 2012 NLDS, and lost the 2013 wild card game. Since then, Cincinnati has never finished higher than fourth in the NL Central.

Source: Dave Sandford / Getty Images

3. Detroit Red Wings
> League: NHL
> Most recent playoff appearance: 2016
> Total championships (most recent): 11 (2008)
> Recent playoff performance: one postseason series win since 2011

After an extended run of success, the Detroit Red Wings are now the worst team in the NHL. Detroit made the 25 straight postseasons from 1991-2016, winning Stanley Cups in 1997, 1998, 2002, and 2008. After losing in the 2009 Cup Finals, the Red Wings failed to make it past the second round in their next seven playoff appearances. The team that had once been the model of consistency then missed the playoffs in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Before the 2019-2020 season was interrupted, Detroit was by far the worst team in hockey. The Wings earned 39 points in 71 games. No other team had less than 62.

Source: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images

2. New York Knicks
> League: NBA
> Most recent playoff appearance: 2013
> Total championships (most recent): 2 (1973)
> Recent playoff performance: one postseason series win since 2000

The New York Knicks won two titles in the 1970s and were consistent title contenders in the 1990s, making the playoffs each season from 1988-2001 and earning a spot in the NBA Finals in 1994 and 1999. All changed when James Dolan became owner in 2000. The Knicks’ front office has been in disarray, shuffling through nine different general managers since 2003. New York has just four playoff appearances, two winning seasons, and one playoff series victory since 2001.

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