From their days together as roommates at boarding school in Saskatchewan to winning a Memorial Cup together in Rimouski to a Stanley Cup in Tampa and signing contracts later in their careers that didn’t quite work out as well as everyone had hoped, Brad Richards and Vincent Lecavalier have had almost parallel tracks when it comes to their hockey careers.
So it is only fitting that they would retire from the NHL in the same year and maybe, just maybe, enter the Hall of Fame together in the fall of 2019. The call on both players will be a vexing decision for the Hall of Fame selection committee. To be sure, there are players who are inferior to both Richards and Lecavalier and accomplished less in the NHL than they did who are in, but induction into the Hall seems to be something of a moving target that is unpredictable.
Richards and Lecavalier had very good NHL careers. But were they truly great, Hall of Fame careers? It’s debatable, which makes things really interesting. Let’s take a look at both players:
Sidney Crosby captured his first Conn Smythe on Sunday night, earning the nod from media voters in a tough field that hadn’t produced a clear cut favorite. Plenty of fans thought the voters got it right. But others were disappointed, with many of those feeling the honor should have gone to Phil Kessel.
It’s not hard to see why. Kessel is a divisive player (especially among fans of his former teams), but when viewed from a certain angle he makes for a fantastic story. And more importantly, he was the Penguins leading scorer in the playoffs, finishing three points up on Crosby. And that made his Conn Smythe loss to Crosby an unusual one, at least in terms of recent NHL history.
But simply leading a team in scoring is no guarantee of Conn Smythe glory, nor should it be, and the award has a long history of debatable decisions. So today, let’s look back at some of the other cases in NHL history in which a Cup winner’s leading scorer was snubbed by the voters. We’ll ignore the (many) times where a leading scorer was passed over for a defenseman or goaltender, since that tends to be an apples and oranges case. Instead, we’ll focus on cases that fit the Kessel/Crosby pattern, where a team’s leading scorer was passed over for another forward.
As we’ll find out, it turns out that Kessel and Crosby are in good company. Here are five forwards who skated away with the Conn Smythe despite finishing well back of one or more teammates in the scoring race.
Be it pre-game, post-game or tributes, Hockey Night in Canada has always produced some of the best montages in sports, and following the conclusion of Game 6’s on-ice celebration by the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, Hockey Night delivered once again with a beautiful five-minute look back at the post-season.
The montage splices in mic’d up players, some stirring visuals and brings out the emotion of the post-season, like St. Louis Blues captain David Backes’ tearful recounting of Steve Ott’s dedication to the team and helping to get Backes back in the lineup. There’s also images of tributes to Gordie Howe, audio of local broadcasts during overtime heroics and, of course, two of the post-season’s best goal calls: Read more
Today probably rots if you’re in San Jose.
The Sharks will wake up with no more hockey to play, no more chances to win the Stanley Cup in 2015-16. And that feeling will linger for awhile, perhaps for the entire summer. Which is too bad, because the Sharks should feel proud of what they accomplished this season.
SAN JOSE – Aside from the players themselves, there are a good number of 18-year-old kids who were thrilled to see the Pittsburgh Penguins win the Stanley Cup this spring.
Unless you follow the prospect world, there’s a good chance you haven’t heard of the likes of Will Bitten, Clayton Keller, Vitali Abramov, Alex DeBrincat and Rasmus Apslund yet. But you will. And depending on how many NHL teams try to copy the blueprint provided by this year’s Stanley Cup-winning Penguins, they might have a better chance to make the NHL than they ever have.
As judged by Conn Smythe Trophy voters, Sidney Crosby was the Pittsburgh Penguins’ best forward — and best player — in the post-season, but it was Kris Letang who was undoubtedly the Penguins’ top blueliner throughout the post-season. It’s fitting then that Pittsburgh clinched the franchise’s fourth Stanley Cup on a goal that saw Crosby and Letang link up.
With the Penguins having their second chance to close out the Sharks and take the Cup, Pittsburgh made sure to keep any glimmer of hope San Jose may have had to a minimum. The Penguins opened the scoring on a power play tally by Brian Dumoulin in the first period, but the SAP Center exploded less than seven minutes into the second frame when Logan Couture tied the game. But in a series where the Sharks trailed for the majority, Game 6 would be much the same.
From the moment the puck was dropped following Couture’s goal, the Penguins took over. Pittsburgh got possession, turned the puck up ice and skated circles around the San Jose zone, putting pucks on net and making Sharks netminder Martin Jones dart back and forth to cover his goal. After nearly 40 seconds of zone time, which included Letang showcasing some fancy footwork along the left wing wall, Crosby dug a puck out of the front of the net, swooped behind the goal and laid a perfect pass out front for Letang to one-time home: Read more
SAN JOSE – Perhaps Sidney Crosby will never score 100 points ever again. Then again, maybe he will. If you go by analytics, logic states that his numbers should begin declining at some point pretty soon. But he proved in the Stanley Cup final, and by winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP, that he’s about so much more than numbers.
“I think Sidney Crosby’s best hockey is ahead of him,” said Penguins assistant GM Bill Guerin.
Whoa there, cowboy. Best hockey ahead of him? Two Stanley Cups, two scoring championships, two Hart Trophies, a Conn Smythe, five 100-point seasons, two Olympic gold medals and a space waiting for his plaque in the Hockey Hall of Fame and his best hockey is still ahead of him? Well, if you consider that Crosby has essentially turned himself into a Selke Trophy candidate and that he’s altered his entire game a la Steve Yzerman, perhaps that’s not as outlandish as it sounds.
SAN JOSE – It was a team that had one player who overcame thyroid cancer, another a stroke. A third player had to retire because of blood clots. It was a team of superstars and castoffs, one player who was run out of the so-called Center of the Hockey Universe. It was run by a guy who called himself a caretaker, then ended up remodeling the whole darn school. It was a team that was floundering until it fired its coach, then had to turn to 22-year-old kid with all of 13 games of NHL experience in the playoffs.
And now the Pittsburgh Penguins are Stanley Cup champions. So they know a little something about staring down adversity. And they also know a little something about forming habits. This is Pittsburgh’s fourth Cup in the past 25 years, which doesn’t seem like much until you consider that the Detroit Red Wings are the only other team to win as many Cups as Pittsburgh in that time frame.