The Long Wait: 5 NHL Vets Look For 1st Stanley Cup Ring

With the 2013-14 NHL regular season only days away, we embark on another journey toward crowning one team supreme, Stanley Cup Champions. As always, this season there will a few NHL veterans who have played the game for years, excelled at the highest level, but never enjoyed a Stanley Cup victory. Getting one’s name on the Cup is the most significant accomplishment in hockey. Sure, individual awards can do wonders for a player’s legacy, however, the ultimate goal of a hockey star is to become champion. There is a reason NHL player’s gracefully smile while accepting an individual award, yet absolutely go bonkers when they win a Stanley Cup. The Cup is the be-all-end-all of NHL achievement. The next five players have been successful for years, all the while, avoiding Stanley Cup glory. This season, these guys have a decent shot at finally achieving the ultimate – their name on hockey’s mightiest symbol, for the first time in their career.

Joe Thornton’s Final Frontier – The Stanley Cup

Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Joe Thornton has basically done it all in his NHL career. The former 1st overall draft choice of the Boston Bruins in 1997 will be remembered as one of the most dominant players of his era, and he currently holds claim to the title – highest scoring player of the new millennium.

It doesn’t get much more impressive than Big Joe’s stat line. The Sharks’ Captain has 1,118 career points and his 787 total assists places him 33rd on the all-time leaders list, as well as, 2nd among active players, behind Jaromir Jagr.

Joe Thornton has never played in a Stanley Cup final. That being said, throughout his eight year term with the San Jose Sharks, the club has made the playoffs every single season. Thornton’s Sharks aren’t total playoff busts, either. The NHL’s teal coloured team has advanced past the 1st round in five of the eight playoffs they’ve experienced under Joe Thornton’s watch. The Sharks hit their peak in 2010 and 2011 when they made the Conference Finals in both playoff tournaments.

Joe Thornton is a good playoff performer on the scoresheet. The Sharks’ playmaker has an impressive 97 points in 125 career post season games. His good numbers are proof that Big Joe is capable of producing offence in the post season, but that’s all they are proof of. For whatever reason, his fault or not, Thornton absence from the Stanley Cup Finals is a stigma that may stick with him. The emergence of star centre Logan Couture provides Joe with support he’s never enjoyed before in his career. If the young Sharks’ sniper can play #1 centre duties effectively in the spring, the aging Thornton can fall back into a secondary role and finally get his name on professional sports’ most illustrious trophy in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Ditto for Patrick Marleau.

Ryan Smyth Will Get Another Chance To Win The Stanley Cup

Ryan Smyth, Edmonton Oilers

Image Courtesy of Flickr. Photograph by Bridget Samuels.

Oilers greybeard and constant battler, Ryan Smyth, becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the upcoming 2013-14 NHL season. His approaching status as a UFA makes him a perfect candidate to be dealt to a contending team at this season’s trade deadline. Smyth is not the goal scorer he used to be, but he’s all heart. Surely, there is a team on the cusp that could use a player with Smyth’s unique skill set and willingness to go to the net.

In 2006, Ryan Smyth and his Edmonton Oilers went on a Cindarella run all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Oilers knocked out very strong clubs the Detroit Red Wings, San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks along the road to a final showdown against the Carolina Hurricanes. Edmonton trailed 3-1 in the final series but they battled their way back to force a Game 7 in Carolina. Smyth’s club played fearlessly, unwilling to give up, roll over, and die. The Oilers lost Game 7 by a score of 3-1.

Ryan Smyth has been very close to scratching his name into NHL history as a Cup winner. Injuries and other unforeseen events may affect current Stanley Cup contenders, forcing them to acquire the solid veteran with a reputation for competing hard, and utilizing him as a motivator and depth forward. Or who knows? Maybe the Oilers will go on another magical run.

Until He Wins A Cup, Some Will Hang That Over The Head Of Roberto Luongo

Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks, Stanley Cup

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Vancouver Canucks franchise goaltender, Roberto Luongo, has been one of the National Hockey League’s best net minders for well over a decade. Bobby Lou has 348 wins in the NHL, placing him 17th on the all time goalie wins list. A strong 40 plus win performance this season will bump Lou all the way up to 11th on the list. If he plays next season, and there is no reason why he won’t, Luongo will likely climb all the way up to 7th all time in goalie wins. However, until he wins a Stanley Cup, his legacy will always be lacking hockey’s ultimate prize.

Roberto Luongo came very close to winning his first Stanley Cup in 2011. The Vancouver Canucks had a dream campaign, finishing 1st in NHL regular season points, earning themselves a Presidents’ Trophy. Their remarkable year continued in the playoffs. They dethroned defending Cup champs, the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1st round. The Canucks always kept the Nashville Predators at an arm’s length in a 2nd round 6 game series win. The Canucks’ 3rd round was most dominant – they eliminated Joe Thornton’s San Jose Sharks quickly, in 5 games.

Roberto Luongo had a shaky final, with moments of brilliance. Bobby Lou earned 2 shutouts against finalists’ the Boston Bruins. However, he was lit up for 8 goals in Game 2, and allowed 3 goals on his first 8 shots against in Game 6. The Canucks hosted Game 7 at home, and they lost. Luongo, was a win away from his name on the Stanley Cup. This season, he may get another opportunity with the Canucks, as they take a stab at winning the franchises’ first ever Stanley Cup.

The Only Goal Jarome Iginla Is Concerned With Is Winning A Stanley Cup

Jarome Iginla, Boston Bruins, Stanley Cup

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Jarome Iginla is one heck of an NHL power forward. He’s previously won the NHL scoring title, and currently sits 32nd all time in NHL goals scored. If the perennial 30 goal scorer reaches the plateau again this season, he will climb all the way up to 24th on the all time list. The former Flames captain is a lock for the Hockey Hall of Fame and will be remembered as one of the best shooters to ever play the game. However, Iggy’s legacy is missing one important final milestone.

Jarome Iginla and the Calgary Flames came very close to achieving the NHL’s ultimate reward in the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Iginla led his Flames all the way to a Cup Finals matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning, who fielded their own legendary Cup hopeful, Dave Andreychuk. The Flames led the finals 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 throughout the seven game series.

In Game 6 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals, the Flames appeared to score a goal that would have given them a 3-2 lead in the game. The goal was disallowed. Later evidence suggested the controversial goal by Martin Gelinas did in fact cross the goal line. Had it counted, the Flames would have been mere minutes away from the franchises’ first Cup victory since 1989. Here is video of the NHL’s most notorious Stanley Cup Finals missed call of the last 15 years.

Whether Jarome Iginla should have won the Cup in 2004 is irrelevant at this point. He joins the Boston Bruins for the 2013-14 NHL season, hoping to finally see his name etched into the hardest trophy to win in professional sports. As a member of the Bruins, Iginla almost certainly ensures himself another birth in the post season, and once you’re in, anything can happen. Iginla fits in on Boston, as well. He is perfectly slotted on an already deep club.

Daniel Alfredsson Takes A Back Seat On A Stanley Cup Driven Hockey Club

Daniel Alfredsson, Detroit Red Wings, Stanley Cup

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Daniel Alfredsson has enjoyed success on some very competitive Ottawa Senators teams over the last 15 NHL seasons. From 1999 to 2006 the Sens won four of a possible seven division titles, often entering the post season as favourites to go far, and potentially challenge for a Stanley Cup. It wasn’t until the 2006-07 season that the Sens finally got their chance to play for Lord Stanley’s Mug.

In one of the most dominant displays in recent Cup Finals history, the Ottawa Senators were severely outmatched by a much more aggressive hockey club from Anaheim. The Sens lost the franchises’ first Finals appearance quickly, in 5 games. Perhaps the most lasting memory of Alfredsson from the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals occurred when the Sens Captain appeared to intentionally shoot the puck at Ducks’ defenceman, Scott Niedermayer.

The life long Senator has moved on. On July 5th, 2013, the first day of NHL free agency, Daniel Alfredsson shocked us all when he chose to sign a one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings. Alfie was a Sen his entire career before making what must have been a difficult decision to leave the city he’s called home since 1995.

A lot of talk surrounding Alfredsson’s decision to leave Ottawa suggests he made a previous behind-closed-doors agreement with Sens management that would cut Alfredsson’s pay at the time, then reward him with a final year at a big dollar value to compensate the Sens star for all the pay cuts he’s taken over the years. That’s Alfredsson’s side of the story. For more about Alfredsson’s reasoning for leaving Ottawa, check out this informative read by NHL Ice News.

Much like Iginla, Alfredsson also joins a perfect situation. He will play this season on one of the NHL’s widely accepted Stanley Cup contenders, and he’ll do so in an environment that best suits him. The Wings are a puck possession team, a style Alfredsson is adept at performing. He can put the icing on the cake of an incredible NHL career with his first ever Stanley Cup title as a member of the Detroit Red Wings in 2013-14.