Monday, June 17, 2013 by Sal Ientile of The Hockey Daily.
Somewhere in a parallel universe, the Stanley Cup Finals may be playing out very differently.
If it were possible, these two exceptional hockey clubs playing for the Cup would be loaded with even more superstars and the Stanley Cup Finals would be a true meeting of the best players in the world, as opposed to, the best teams.
The Bruins would have Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Rick Nash, Henrik Lundqvist and Kris Letang or some other combination of elite talents of their choosing from the Maple Leafs, Rangers and Penguins.
The Blackhawks would possibly have top NHLers like Ryan Suter, Zach Parise, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Jonathan Quick, Drew Doughty, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Dustin Brown if they saw fit.
I know, it doesn’t work like that in reality, but there is nothing real about my parallel universe either. The truth is, great teams aren’t solely built on raw talent. Chemistry, experience, grit, specialty skills, and so many other elements make up a great team. But, imagine the All Stars!
If Crosby was a Bruin, he wouldn’t have to worry about getting shut down by the Bruins.
Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Toews up the middle? How do you beat that? You could start by coming back with Crosby, Malkin, Bergeron and Krejci (the playoffs’ leading scorer).
Kessel in a Bruins jersey? We know what that looks like.
Would Henrik Lundqvist be Tuukka Rask’s backup?
Rick Nash might have better luck scoring on a line with Crosby and Jagr. Or maybe he’d play with Crosby and Iginla.
Evgeni Malkin patrolling centre on a line with Milan Lucic and James Neal. They would steamroll the competition with their collective size, speed and skill.
The Blackhawks would have a lot of grit if they added Kings – Mike Richards, Dustin Brown and maybe even Justin Abdelkader of the Detroit Red Wings just to be sure.
Or, maybe the wise men who manage and coach these two great finalists would make more strategic moves like acquiring Dan Girardi, Jay McClemment and Brandon Sutter for some valuable grit and determination.
In a parallel world, or in a video game, this could all be true.
To make another point. If you made a list of the top ten players in the league right now, the names on that list would almost entirely come from the two finalists, and the teams they’ve beaten along the way. Crosby, Malkin, Lundqvist and Datsyuk for sure, to go along with Jonathan Toews, Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron who are all worth a spot each. You could make a strong case for Doughty and Keith as well. And others too.
However, in the end, these teams are great the way they are. The Bruins and the Blackhawks are so perfectly built to excel at the styles they have conquered. And they’ve been at it a while; it took years to build these champions.