Special Report

Sports Franchises With The Most Consecutive Winning Seasons

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American sports leagues are designed to promote parity. The worst teams get the top draft picks to give them the best chance at selecting a superstar player who can perhaps help turn the franchise around. Meanwhile the top teams have to wait and draft whoever is left.

Despite the drafting system aiming to help level team positions, some teams manage to stay on top of the league for decades at a time. Whether it is because of good coaching, a high payroll, or a superstar player leading them, some franchises throughout sports history have managed to string together 15 or more consecutive years of winning seasons — often winning many championships in the process as well.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed team histories of NHL, NBA, MLB, and NFL franchises on the Sports Reference family of sites to determine the franchises with the most consecutive winning seasons of all time.

Many of the longest winning season streaks in American sports history began many decades ago. Earlier incarnations of pro sports leagues had far fewer teams, making it easier for one or two teams to remain dominant. Some of these streaks also predate financial restrictions like salary caps or the luxury tax, which are now standard in U.S. sports leagues. These rules were put in place to even the playing field and give smaller, less affluent teams a chance to compete with larger clubs worth billions of dollars. These are the most valuable sports teams in the world.

In spite of these restrictions, a handful of impressive runs of seasons above .500 either just ended or these runs were still ongoing as of July 2021. Both the San Antonio Spurs and New England Patriots posted in 2020 their first losing season in about two decades. These disappointing seasons came after unprecedented streaks of success for both franchises, with the Patriots winning six Super Bowls and the Spurs winning five NBA titles in their respective streaks — despite often having among the lower payrolls in their league. These are the teams that won championships on a shoestring budget.

Click here to see the sports franchises with the most consecutive winning seasons.

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26. Pittsburgh Penguins
> Consecutive winning seasons: 15 seasons
> Seasons: 2006-07 to present
> Championships: 3 Stanley Cups
> Notable players: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang

The Pittsburgh Penguins are in the midst of a 15-year streak of winning seasons, one of just 26 such streaks in major American sports history. The Pens finished dead last in their division four times in a row in the early 2000s, but this futility moved them up in the draft order, allowing them to select superstars Evgeni Malkin second overall in 2004 and Sidney Crosby first overall in 2005. After Crosby’s rookie season, Pittsburgh has never had a losing season. They have made the playoffs each year and won three Stanley Cups in 2009, 2016, and 2017.

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25. San Jose Sharks
> Consecutive winning seasons: 15 seasons
> Seasons: 2003-2004 to 2018-2019
> Championships: None
> Notable players: Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton

The San Jose Sharks have been consistent contenders in their entire franchise history, making the playoffs 21 out of 29 seasons since the team formed in 1991. Not including the lockout-shortened 2012-2013 season, the Sharks won at least 40 games each season from the 2003-2004 season to the 2018-2019 campaign.

Unfortunately for Sharks fans, each postseason trip has ended in heartbreak, including their lone Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 2016, when they lost in six games to the Pittsburgh Penguins. It seems as though the Sharks have missed their championship window. In the COVID-shortened 2019-2020 season, San Jose finished dead last in their division and finished with an even lower points percentage in the 2020-2021 season.

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24. Pittsburgh Pirates
> Consecutive winning seasons: 15 seasons
> Seasons: 1899 to 1913
> Championships: 1 World Series
> Notable players: Honus Wagner, Fred Clarke

One of the first powerhouse teams in American pro sports, the early 20th century Pittsburgh Pirates dominated baseball in an era when Major League Baseball and the National League were separate entities. As their run of success predates the World Series, the Honus Wagner-led Pirates had only a few chances to win the Fall Classic. The team won the 1909 World Series over Ty Cobb’s Detroit Tigers, after losing the 1903 World Series to the Boston Americans, who later became the Red Sox.

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23. Dallas Stars
> Consecutive winning seasons: 15 seasons
> Seasons: 1996-1997 to 2011-2012
> Championships: 1 Stanley Cup
> Notable players: Mike Modano, Sergei Zubov

The Dallas Stars struggled in the 1995-1996 season, missing the playoffs and replacing their coach midseason. New coach Ken Hitchcock proved to be the right pick, improving the team’s regular season performance each of the next three seasons, finally earning the 1999 Stanley Cup. Hitchcock and his successor Dave Tippett kept the Stars in consistent playoff contention, but that remains the only championship in franchise history. The Stars could always rely on Mike Modano, their superstar center who played in Dallas for 16 seasons and nearly all of the franchise’s consecutive winning season streak.

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22. Atlanta Braves
> Consecutive winning seasons: 15 seasons
> Seasons: 1991 to 2005
> Championships: 1 World Series
> Notable players: Greg Maddux, Chipper Jones

With Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz taking the hill, the Braves owned the NL East for over a decade. From 1991 to 2005, legendary manager Bobby Cox guided the team to 14 of 15 division titles, including 11 straight. Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz each won at least one Cy Young Award in that era. Though the Braves had 14 trips to the postseason, they could only win one World Series, in 1995.

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21. St. Louis Cardinals
> Consecutive winning seasons: 15 seasons
> Seasons: 1939 to 1953
> Championships: 3 World Series
> Notable players: Stan Musial, Mort Cooper

During the St. Louis Cardinals’ 15 consecutive winning seasons from 1939 to 1953, only the National League team with the best record made the postseason, facing off against the best team from the American League. Yet the Cardinals, buoyed by Hall of Fame outfielder Stan Musial, won four NL pennants and three World Series rings from 1942 to 1946. The Cardinals missed the playoffs in 1945, likely in no small part because Musial was serving in the military during that season.

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20. Chicago Bears
> Consecutive winning seasons: 15 seasons
> Seasons: 1930 to 1944
> Championships: 5 NFL championships
> Notable players: Bronko Nagurski, Sid Luckman

Legendary Chicago Bears founder and owner George Halas guided the team to glory as an executive and head coach in the early days of the franchise. From 1930 to 1944, the team made eight NFL Championship Game appearances, winning five titles. This was all the more impressive considering that the Monsters of the Midway had to contend with the Green Bay Packers, who were also consistently in contention for the postseason as well. In several stints as head coach, Halas led his team to six total NFL titles, the latest coming in 1963.

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19. Vancouver Canucks
> Consecutive winning seasons: 15 seasons
> Seasons: 1999-2000 to 2014-2015
> Championships: None
> Notable players: Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin

For all but the first year of their 15-season winning streak, the Vancouver Canucks were led by twin brothers Daniel and Henrik Sedin. After being drafted with the second and third picks in the 1999 NHL draft, the Sedins put up spectacular numbers for the Canucks for 17 seasons, making 11 postseason appearances from 2000 to 2015. Yet Vancouver was never able to bring home the Stanley Cup, losing the Finals in seven games in 2011 to the Boston Bruins.

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18. Boston Red Sox
> Consecutive winning seasons: 16 seasons
> Seasons: 1967 to 1982
> Championships: None
> Notable players: Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk

Even while they were still afflicted with the Curse of the Bambino, the Boston Red Sox had some great seasons from 1967 to 1982. After awful 1950s and early 1960s seasons, Boston’s fortunes changed thanks to Carl Yastrzemski. The Red Sox went from ninth place in the AL in 1966 to first the next season, and all the way to the World Series. Boston lost in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals, but they played well for the next decade and a half. The team made another World Series in 1975, but again lost in seven games, this time to the Cincinnati Reds. Boston fans would have to wait nearly 30 more seasons for their next World Series championship.

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Source: City of Toronto Archives / Wikimedia Commons

17. Chicago Blackhawks
> Consecutive winning seasons: 16 seasons
> Seasons: 1960-1961 to 1975-1976
> Championships: 1 Stanley Cup
> Notable players: Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull

Hockey changed a lot from 1960 to 1976. The NHL expanded from six teams to 18. But the Chicago Blackhawks, part of the original six teams, were consistent, posting a winning record each season for that entire span. After failing to have a single winning season during the entire 1950s, coach Rudy Pilous turned the franchise around and led the Hawks to the title in 1961. Though Chicago missed the playoffs only once, in 1969, in the seasons that followed their winning streak, the team failed to find postseason success again until 2010.

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16. Philadelphia Flyers
> Consecutive winning seasons: 16 seasons
> Seasons: 1972-1973 to 1987-1988
> Championships: 2 Stanley Cups
> Notable players: Bobby Clarke, Bernie Parent

Newer pro sports franchises can take years or even decades to win their first championship — but not the Philadelphia Flyers. After forming for the 1967-1968 season, the Flyers had their first winning season in 1972-1973, then won the 1974 and 1975 Stanley Cups, led by Hall of Fame coach Fred Shero. Those two seasons were the two best in the career of goaltender Bernie Parent — the Hall of Famer won both the Conn Smythe and Vezina Trophies in both of those seasons.

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15. Oakland Raiders
> Consecutive winning seasons: 16 seasons
> Seasons: 1965 to 1980
> Championships: 2 Super Bowls
> Notable players: Ken Stabler, Gene Upshaw

Legendary Raiders owner Al Davis was famed for his simple philosophy, “Just win, baby!” And during his early years as Raiders owner, that’s exactly what they did. After stepping down as coach after an 8-5-1 1965 season, he assumed control of the team and guided Oakland to 11 postseason appearances in the next 15 seasons. Coaches John Madden and Tom Flores each led the Raiders to a Super Bowl in that time. Even as coaches and quarterbacks changed, the Raiders kept winning.

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14. San Francisco 49ers
> Consecutive winning seasons: 16 seasons
> Seasons: 1983 to 1998
> Championships: 4 Super Bowls
> Notable players: Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott

The San Francisco 49ers won their first Super Bowl after the 1981 season but struggled in the shortened 1982 season (due to strike), going 3-6. The championship team, led by safety Ronnie Lott, QB Joe Montana, and head coach Bill Walsh, were primed and ready for more success. The Niners won at least 10 games in each of the next 16 seasons, winning four more Super Bowls. Even after Walsh, Montana, and Lott left, the team kept winning as former defensive coordinator George Seifert took over as head coach and Steve Young admirably replaced Montana.

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13. Los Angeles Lakers
> Consecutive winning seasons: 16 seasons
> Seasons: 1976-1977 to 1991-1992
> Championships: 5 NBA titles
> Notable players: Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most dominant franchises in American pro sports history. Arguably, their greatest stretch was from the mid-70s to early 1990s. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar teamed up with Magic Johnson to create the Showtime Lakers — one of the most exciting and successful sports franchises in sports history. The Lakers won five championships and played in nine finals during the Showtime era, never missing the playoffs from 1977 to 1993.

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12. Chicago White Sox
> Consecutive winning seasons: 17 seasons
> Seasons: 1951 to 1967
> Championships: None
> Notable players: Minnie Minoso, Billy Pierce

Much like the Red Sox, the Chicago White Sox had a string of winning seasons in the mid-20th century but could never win a championship. The South Siders were consistently over .500 in the 1950s and 1960s, but they only made one World Series, losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1959. Chicago fans thought they were cursed by the Black Sox Scandal, in which players from the 1919 White Sox were allegedly paid to throw the World Series.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

11. Baltimore Orioles
> Consecutive winning seasons: 18 seasons
> Seasons: 1968 to 1985
> Championships: 2 World Series
> Notable players: Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer

From 1968 to 1985, the Baltimore Orioles made five World Series appearances, winning two of them. Earl Weaver was the manager for most of that period — running the team for seven of the 14 playoff appearances the franchise has made in its 119-season history. The team was full of legendary Hall of Fame ball players like Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken Jr., Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, and Frank Robinson.

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10. New Jersey Devils
> Consecutive winning seasons: 18 seasons
> Seasons: 1991-1992 to 2009-2010
> Championships: 3 Stanley Cups
> Notable players: Martin Brodeur, Scott Niedermayer

One of the key reasons the New Jersey Devils were a winning team each year from the 1991-1992 season through the 2009-2010 season was goaltender Martin Brodeur. He played sparingly in his early years but burst onto the scene in the 1993-1994 season, winning the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. The next season, the Devils won their first ever Stanley Cup. Even as coaches and skaters changed, Brodeur brought consistency, playing for New Jersey for 21 seasons. He always gave his team a chance to win, never giving up more than 2.6 goals per game as a starter.

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9. New England Patriots
> Consecutive winning seasons: 19 seasons
> Seasons: 2001 to 2019
> Championships: 6 Super Bowls
> Notable players: Tom Brady, Rodney Harrison

Ever since Bill Belichick took over as head coach in 2000, the New England Patriots have been a winning machine. Though in his first season, the Pats went 5-11, in the next, QB Drew Bledsoe went down with an injury early in the season, paving the way for unheralded backup Tom Brady — and the rest is history.

The Pats won the 2001 Super Bowl — their first of six under the Brady-Belichick tandem. New England posted its first losing season in nearly two decades in 2020. They went 7-9 following Brady’s departure for Tampa Bay, where he won a Super Bowl in his first year with the Buccaneers.

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8. Utah Jazz
> Consecutive winning seasons: 19 seasons
> Seasons: 1985-1986 to 2003-2004
> Championships: None
> Notable players: Karl Malone, John Stockton

The Utah Jazz own the dubious honor of having the longest winning season streak in American pro sports history that never yielded a championship. The Jazz selected John Stockton and Karl Malone in consecutive NBA drafts in 1984 and 1985, respectively. The pair perfected the pick and roll offense and never missed the playoffs while playing together. Yet they could never get over the hump, losing in the first round of the playoffs nine times, the conference semi-finals four times, the conference finals three times, and the NBA Finals twice, both times to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls.

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Source: Wikimedia Commons

7. Dallas Cowboys
> Consecutive winning seasons: 20 seasons
> Seasons: 1966 to 1985
> Championships: 2 Super Bowls
> Notable players: Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson

Head coach Tom Landry was the driving force that took the Dallas Cowboys from a hapless expansion team to an NFL dynasty. Dallas did not win a single game in its inaugural 1960 NFL season. But Landry’s squad made steady improvements before they finally made their first postseason appearance after the 1966 season. The team made the playoffs each of the next seven seasons, winning Super Bowl VI in 1972. Landry was fired after the 1988 season, but in his time as head coach, he made it to five Super Bowls, winning two of them and putting together 20 straight winning seasons — an NFL record.

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6. San Antonio Spurs
> Consecutive winning seasons: 22 seasons
> Seasons: 1997-1998 to 2018-2019
> Championships: 5 NBA titles
> Notable players: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker

No NBA franchise has ever had as many consecutive winning seasons as the San Antonio Spurs. In his first full season in charge, 1997-1998, coach Gregg Popovich took the Spurs from a 20-62 team to a 56-win squad, largely thanks to first overall pick Tim Duncan. The next year, the Spurs won their first ever championship and have never looked back.

Under Pop, the Spurs won five championships, the most recent in 2014. The team’s core players of Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili have all since retired, and 2014 Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard was traded to the Toronto Raptors in 2018. Without these star players, San Antonio slumped to a 32-39 record in the COVID-shortened 2019-2020 season and missed the playoffs again in 2021.

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5. Detroit Red Wings
> Consecutive winning seasons: 24 seasons
> Seasons: 1991-1992 to 2015-2016
> Championships: 4 Stanley Cups
> Notable players: Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom

In the 1990s, the Detroit Red Wings were mired in a Stanley Cup drought that stretched all the way back to 1955. Coach Bryan Murray got the franchise turned around, taking the Red Wings back to the playoffs in 1991 and back to a winning record for the 1991-1992 season. He was replaced by Scotty Bowman in 1993, who led the Wings to three Stanley Cups in the next decade. Even after Bowman retired, Detroit kept winning, bolstered by the skills and leadership of Nicklas Lidstrom and Steve Yzerman — both of whom played for Detroit for at least 20 seasons. The Red Wings won the Cup in 2008 and made the playoffs every year until 2016-2017.

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4. New York Yankees
> Consecutive winning seasons: 28 seasons
> Seasons: 1993 to present
> Championships: 5 World Series
> Notable players: Derek Jeter, Aaron Judge

A model of consistency, the New York Yankees are adding onto their lengthy streak of winning seasons. New York hasn’t had a losing season since 1992, bolstered by legends like Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, and numerous others throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The Bronx Bombers have won five titles during this stretch, the most recent in 2009. The Yankees now have a core of stars like Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, though their streak could be in jeopardy. The Yankees were just three games over .500 as of the All-Star break in 2021.

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3. Boston Bruins
> Consecutive winning seasons: 29 seasons
> Seasons: 1967-1968 to 1995-1996
> Championships: 2 Stanley Cups
> Notable players: Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque

From the late 1960s to the mid 1990s, the Boston Bruins never missed the playoffs. After an eight-season playoff drought beginning in 1960, coach Harry Sinden righted the ship, steadily improving the Bruins until they won the 1970 Stanley Cup. The Bruins won it again in 1972, led by superstar defenseman Bobby Orr. Despite shuffling through a dozen different coaches from 1967 to 1996, the Bruins made the playoffs during each of those seasons. Yet, for the duration of that streak, the Bruins could only win the two Stanley Cups in 1970 and 1972. The team made five Finals appearances after that but could never bring home the Cup.

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2. Montreal Canadiens
> Consecutive winning seasons: 32 seasons
> Seasons: 1951-1952 to 1982-1983
> Championships: 16 Stanley Cups
> Notable players: Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau

The Montreal Canadiens saw unprecedented success in the NHL for almost the entire 20th century. The team, founded in 1917, won at least one championship in every decade it existed until the 2000s. The most successful period came from 1951 to 1983 — a 32 season stretch in which the Habs posted 21 straight winning seasons, missed the playoffs just once, and won 16 Cups. Stars like Maurice Richard, Guy LaFleur, and Jean Beliveau came and went, but the outcomes stayed the same as the Canadiens racked up Cups in bunches. Yet Montreal is now mired in its longest Cup drought in history, its last title coming in 1993.

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1. New York Yankees
> Consecutive winning seasons: 39 seasons
> Seasons: 1926 to 1964
> Championships: 19 World Series
> Notable players: Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio

No team has ever come close to the greatness achieved by the 20th century New York Yankees. From 1926 to 1964, the Yanks never had a losing season — 39 years. In 19 of those 39 seasons, the Bronx Bombers also won the World Series. For context, no other MLB franchise has more than 11 championships total. The Yankees’ stars of that era are still among the greatest to ever play ball — stars like Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Yogi Berra, and Mickey Mantle to name a few.

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