Around the NHL: Comparing NHL teams to Formula 1 teams
1 year ago
I’m definitely not alone in saying that Formula 1 has recently swept me off my feet and captivated me as one of my new favourite sports. After a friend told me to watch the Drive to Survive Netflix series, it timed perfectly with the start of the 2021 season in Bahrain. One exciting race later, and I was in.
Now, I’m not the only one, a lot of the sports world, and even non-sports fans have been enjoying the drama of the sport, and how it extends beyond race day. If you’re like me as well, the meme content that comes out of every race weekend is second to none, in my humble opinion.
One of the most interesting aspects of the sport is the fact that there are still teams, even though the drivers on the same team are still competing against each other, and sometimes it’s even hyper focused on their teammates because they’re the only other driver on the track that’s in the exact same car as you. It’d be like if NHL teams had the Stanley Cup playoffs, except the only person that actually gets the Cup is the MVP of the team. Just imagine the chaos of Kucherov passing up a wide open Point just so he could have more points and a better chance at winning MVP, and it bites the team in the butt and they lose out on the whole thing. That’s more or less how team’s work in Formula 1, or at least to the extent that I can use hockey to explain it to all those who don’t know much of the sport.
So, I thought it’d be fun to compare teams in my two favourite sports, and who knows, maybe it could help you pick one if you’re interested in joining in on the F1 fun, or you’re just undecided. Please note that while I’ve indulged a lot of Formula 1 since taking interest in it, I’ve only known it for four or so months, so not everything is going to be dead accurate, this is just off of my initial impressions of the teams.
Alfa Romeo is arguably the most forgettable team on the track. They’re not good enough to be interesting, but they aren’t so bad that they become a car crash you can’t look away from. They just exist, and are usually the last team I can think of when I’m listing the teams.
Hence, the Minnesota Wild. While they had a more interesting season than normal thanks to the breakout rookie season from Kirill Kaprizov, they are more often than not the last team on most hockey fans minds. They’ve never been so bad that they get good draft picks and more star talent, but they’ve never been so good that they stand out. They’ve made the playoffs in eight of the last nine seasons, and yet I don’t remember much of those eight appearances. Much like Alfa Romeo, they’re lineup is also mostly constructed of Old Guy Past Their Prime (Kimi Raikkonen) and Guy Who Might Be Good If I Knew Who He Was (Antonio Giovinazzi). Maybe they’ll even see their young talent leave for where they feel destined to be (like Leclerc going to Ferrari or Kaprizov reportedly wanting to go back to Russia).
Rundown: Two incredibly meh teams that never really seem to get any attention.
Alpha Tauri is a very unique team in Formula 1, as they’re more or less the B team for Red Bull. I’m still not entirely sure how much control Red Bull has over them, but basically when Red Bull wants one of their drivers for their team, they can kind of just take them. It more or less acts as a development for drivers who they’re looking at to eventually join the big team, but don’t think they’re quite ready to be competing at the top of the grid just yet.
While they aren’t actually a minor league team, the Buffalo Sabres might as well be for how they’ve played over the last ten years. It doesn’t really seem like they’ll be competitive in a while, and all of the star talent that does come from there usually sees better success on other teams. Both teams have someone who would probably get a lot more recognition as a great driver/player on a better team in Jack Eichel and Pierre Gasly, and both also seem to see their future outside of their current organization after some in-house drama.
Rundown: It’s one thing to support the athletes on these teams, but if you’re rooting for success from the team itself, good luck.
Alpine are similar to Alfa Romeo in that they kind of exist in the middle of the pack and aren’t all that interesting. The biggest difference is that they had a brief stretch of success in the 2000s, but since then have been pretty mediocre.
This was arguably the toughest one for me to find a comparable as, again, irrelevant, but I ended up getting an idea from my friend who originally got me into the sport.
That eventually led to me picking the New Jersey Devils. Like how Renault tried to bring in Daniel Ricciardo and had little success, the Devils are currently trying the same with Norris winning defenseman P.K. Subban, and Subban seems to have fallen off a cliff. Of course, the comparison extends beyond there. The Devils also had success in the early 2000s with their dynasty, but have since been pretty forgettable, and like how Alpine is currently looking for any last bit of success from an all-time great in Fernando Alonso, the Devils also did so several years ago with Jaromir Jagr. I almost went with Montreal or Colorado because of their French or former French connection, but both of those teams found a home later in this article.
Rundown: Had a brief stretch of success, but have otherwise been pretty forgettable.
Aston Martin are the other team to be in their first season as a rebrand (as they’ve raced under the Racing Point moniker for the few seasons prior), and thankfully for this article are the last of the middle pack meh teams.
It was hard to get a grip of who to compare this team to, as while they are technically new, they aren’t like Seattle and Vegas where they’re outright new, just rebranded. So, I went with the last NHL team to relocate in the Winnipeg Jets, and there were surprisingly a few more comparisons. The weirdest one is that both teams owners are two of the richest people in Canada, with Lawrence Stroll investing in Aston Martin while David Thomson has an ownership role with the Jets. Like Aston Martin, the Jets are pretty irrelevant, especially by Canadian team standards, and they also had this brief stretch of competitiveness, but no actual success, in the last few years before being meh again.
Rundown: Not the worst team to cheer for, as they’ll have some competitive years, but there’s definitely better options.
Ferrari is one of the premier historic franchises in Formula 1, with a rich history of success, as well as a strong lineup of successful drivers that have raced for them. But, that success has evaded them in recent years, as they seem to more or less stay relevant on name brand than actual success, although they’ve had some close calls.
Much like Ferrari, the Montreal Canadiens are also the leading team in their sport of all time champions, and also boast a great lineup of all time greats, but have also struggled in recent years (although the Habs probably laugh when Ferrari complains about their 12 year drought). Both had recent shots at winning that they ultimately couldn’t capitalize on, and both more or less rely on their name brand for relevancy. The similarities end there though, as at least Ferrari can still attract promising names like Sebastian Vettel, Charles Leclerc, and Carlos Sainz Jr. with their name, while the Habs can’t even get interviews with them.
Rundown: Both have the most championships in their sport, but haven’t won for a while, and struggle to adapt to new eras of their sport.
Haas are a relatively new team to Formula 1, and when they’re at their best, they do a great job of making competitive cars with the little money that they have, but at their worst are just kind of embarrassing. They find themselves in a bit of a rut with this problem right now as well, as in order to get money from Dmitry Mazepin’s company, they need to have his son Nikita as a driver, who is quite easily the worst in the sport right now.
When you think of team’s that seem to get screwed over when ownership/money get in the way, the Ottawa Senators are probably the first team to come to mind. Arizona and Florida are also broke, but none see it be as much of a problem as the Senators with owner Eugene Melnyk. Like Haas, the Sens always seem to have a one year window of being competitive when the skill of the team is there, but they haven’t had to pay much for that skill yet, and the Sens also currently employ a Russian named Nikita who is arguably the worst in the sport.
Rundown: Both are broke as hell, and that often gets in the way of them consistently being competitive.
McLaren is another storied F1 team with some great drivers in their history, most notably for their success in the 80s, as well as the oddity that is having their owner Bruce McLaren also be their driver, but haven’t seen as much success in the modern era, and when they do, it’s on the back of young up and coming driver Lando Norris.
Sound familiar? The NHL also boasts a franchise that dons orange and blue that had dominant success in the 80s. Wait, they actually boast two. Well, in this case I’m referring to the Edmonton Oilers, who also boast a young talent that carries the team on his back in Connor McDavid. Norris isn’t exactly the McDavid of F1 (that’s probably Max Verstappen, but Red Bull at least has the depth to avoid an Edmonton comparison), but McLaren is currently third in the Constructors standings with 141 points, and 101 of those are courtesy of Norris, who’s fourth in the driver’s championship. Plus, if any team was every going to try and replicate the “owner is also the driver” thing in hockey, it’d definitely be the Oilers.
Rundown: Both teams had lots of success in the 80s, and are currently getting carried by a young up-and-comer.
Mercedes are the definition of dominance in the modern era of Formula 1, winning the last seven Constructors and Drivers championships, with six of those seven Drivers championships coming courtesy of Lewis Hamilton. They stretch the rules to get there sometimes, but they’ve also been winnings by being ahead of the game, as well as well thought out strategy.
What better comparison than to give them than the team that just won back-to-back Stanley Cups in the Tampa Bay Lightning. While they haven’t won seven in a row like Mercedes, it’s much harder to pull that off in the NHL, but making the final four in five of the last seven seasons is probably as close as we’ll see to Mercedes-like success in the modern age. Everyone wants to be them, but they also have a reputation for stretching the rules (something something $18 million over the cap). I was also considering Chicago for this spot, as they were also found fans tap dancing on their graves when they finally started losing, but comparing Lewis Hamilton’s activism to the least socially progressive franchise in the NHL (which is saying a lot) didn’t sit right with me.
Rundown: Both are the poster child for success, but definitely get some hate from fans for walking the line of the rules sometimes.
Red Bull had some success in recent years, but are probably the biggest competition in the way of Mercedes this season, especially with the emerging young talent in Max Verstappen. This season they’ve definitely been up to the task looking like a dominant force, but who knows what will happen down the stretch.
In the NHL, that’s probably the Colorado Avalanche, who were probably the Lightning’s biggest threat this season, but didn’t even get the chance to prove it as they lost to Vegas in the playoffs. That said, they were a dominant force, putting up underlying numbers unheard of in the modern era, led by another emerging young talent in Nathan MacKinnon. They’re one of those teams that seem destined to win a championship with this group, much like Red Bull with Max, but sports can be cruel and they aren’t guaranteed. Also, Sergio Perez had a Nazem Kadri esque performance in his most recent race in Austria getting two five second grid penalties for forcing Charles Leclerc off the track.
Rundown: Both seem to be the contender-to-be with a young talent leading the charge.
Every sport has them. That one team that’s just plain cursed. They had success in the past, but that’s well in the past, and their recent history makes it hard to see that changing. Any time they have any hope, no matter the talent they may be bringing in, it’s always just disappointing.
Yeah, the Toronto Maple Leafs weren’t getting off that easy. They may at least give off the impression that they’re competitive these last few years, while Williams is just chillin’ at the back of the race, but their recent success is plagued with failure and disappointment, and if any team is cursed, it’s the Leafs right now. Similarily, both have a young talent that is more or less the engine of their success, but let’s be honest, they’re both going to leave for a better situation the second they get the chance. They also have an athlete that Canadian sport networks love solely because they’re Canadian, as TSN seems to parade around Nicholas Latifi in their F1 ads like he’s someone to watch, while up until this offseason, Mitch Marner seemed to dodge most criticism because he was a good Ontario boy playing for Ontario’s team.
Also, you cheer for one because of their history as Williams, and you cheer for the other one because of a boy named William.
Rundown: Cursed team, do not touch.
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