The second time validates the first and then some.
I had my second child last Thursday and it felt completely different than the first time around. I knew what to expect this time. Good and bad. I know how frustrating and time consuming a kid is, but I also know it is pretty hard to kill one. Legally at least. I took the time to enjoy the little moments along the way this time. Nothing is more thrilling than the first, but the second is a bit sweeter.
Unless you are devoutly against contraception, you also don’t accidently have a second child. The first time around you may say, “Let’s see what happens,” and then it happens. That thought doesn’t occur the second time. The time, effort, money, lack of a social life, money, space, and money all weigh heavily against accidently forgetting to take a pill or wear a rubber. In simpler terms, accidents can happen once, but you’ve got to want it to have it happen again.
This year we’ve got quite a few NHL teams in the same boat, except instead of babies, they’re trying to produce a Stanley Cup. All of these teams are aware of how hard it is to get back to the top of the mountain. Well, except maybe the Los Angeles Kings, who are trying to become the first repeat champion since the 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings. But after back-to-back last-second losses to open their series with St. Louis, I think the Kings have been brought up to speed on the subject. You don’t accidently stumble into the second one.
Number two is going to be tough, but it’s going to be more meaningful than the first. It’s a legacy changer. Cements your name alongside the best in your team’s history. Sure, if the Canucks or Blues or Jarome Iginla hoisted the Cup for the first time, they would never forget the experience, but some of these players are looking to take the next leap to legendary status and become players we’ll never forget.
Let’s take a look at the players who stand the most to gain.
DETROIT RED WINGS
Pavel Datsyuk/Henrik Zetterberg
In the mid to late ’90s, the Red Wings were one of the last dynasties of the NHL. Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, Brendan Shanahan, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Igor Larionov, among others, led the Wings to three Stanley Cups in 1997, 1998 and 2002. A rookie in 2002, Datsyuk is the last link from the old guard still playing on the Red Wings. He was joined the next year by Zetterberg and these two have been underrated superstars in the NHL for over a decade. Both average around a point per game and that lands them in the top 100 all time in that category.
Despite playing in Hockeytown, the pair has a quiet demeanor that keeps them out of the spotlight. Another Cup would be Datsyuk’s third and Zetterberg’s second. Honestly, unless these guys were to win a few more Cups, I don’t know if they’ll ever be recognized for their greatness. Beloved in Detroit, they still need another Cup to vault them into NHL all-time great conversation. For now, they are a reminder of the Wings heyday, looking for another Cup to climb up that seemingly infinite ladder in the Motor City.
Ryan Getzlaf/Corey Perry
Teemu Selanne doesn’t need to be on this list, so I left him off. Already one of the greatest European players of all time, there isn’t much that Selanne needs to do anymore. If he were to retire after winning another Cup, I think it would make for a great highlight, but ultimately would be a cherry on the world’s oldest, most kickass sundae. A sundae does just fine without a lame-ass cherry.
For Getzlaf and Perry, they are in hockey’s no man’s land playing for a team named after an Emilio Estevez children’s movie. The stigma surrounding the Ducks has waned after the 2006 Stanley Cup, but it’s still Anaheim. Very good players burgeoning on great, Getzlaf is a monster two-way player with over 500 career points, and Perry recently won the Hart Trophy in 2011 crowning him the league MVP. Both could use the ice cred that a second Cup would bring. No longer a one hit wonder, Getzlaf and Perry would finally be mentioned among the league’s best, after separating themselves from the boatload of recent One Cup winners.
Jonathan Toews/Patrick Kane/Duncan Keith/Brent Seabrook/Stan Bowman
The grouping above is paid to win Cups, but have flamed out in recent years without having won a playoff series since hoisting the Cup in 2010. To back up the swagger that this team already carries, they need to win a second Cup to validate their bravado. Keith and Seabrook could go down as one of the best recent defensive pairings on the ice with another win. Toews would further aid his “best all-around player” in the NHL argument. For Kane, he eventually may be one of the greatest American players ever to play the game if he could win a Cup or two more and switch up the Natty Light off-season routine.
The person with the most to gain here though is in the front office. Stan Bowman is Scotty’s Bowman’s son, and a second Cup would validate his prowess as a GM of the Hawks. After inheriting virtually the entire roster from previous GM Dale Tallon, Stan Bowman won the Cup in 2010. Stan then had to rid the team of Antti Niemi, Dustin Byfuglien, and others to get under the salary cap (also caused in part by Tallon). Bowman turned that mass exodus into draft picks in order to stockpile cheap young talent. A win here with a re-constituted line up would shorten the shadow he has lived in for every minute of his life and end the argument that he never won with his own players.
LOS ANGELES KINGS
Drew Doughty/Anze Kopitar/Jonathan Quick
You could argue a case for the all the Kings, but I’ll keep it to the three who could have possible Hall of Fame careers brewing. The current Kings roster is comprised of young players built for postseason success and back-to-back Cups would have people whispering dynasty. For the 23-year-old Doughty, it seems inevitable that he will win a Norris Trophy or two down the line, and having a second Cup on the resume would be a great argument for HOF consideration. In an age where great goaltenders seem to be going extinct, a second Cup, along with his Conn Smythe Trophy from last year’s run, would have Quick stand alone as the best young goaltender in the business. For Kopitar, another Cup would give this young superstar more recognition. Already almost to 500 points and only 25 years old, we could be watching a legend in the making.
ALong the heir apparent to Tim Thomas, Rask finally had his season in the sun once Thomas decided to take the year off. In 2010, just as the bulk of the starts seemed to be leaning in Rask’s direction, Thomas ripped of a season for the ages, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy with a Game 7 shutout on the road to win the Stanley Cup. Thomas became an instant folk hero in Boston and Rask had to take a back seat. Now after putting together his own Vezina Trophy-caliber season, no one stands more to gain than Rask, who would finally get his due as the starting goaltender on a Cup winner, and not just a backup.
Evgeni Malkin/Sydney Crosby
No one stands more to gain than these two. Arguably the best two players in hockey, another Cup would push these two toward the conversation of the best of all time. Once it is all said and done, they will put up some gaudy numbers over their careers if healthy (both have had major concussion issues in recent years), but it is the championships that separate the great from the greatest. Both flourished while the other player was on the mend, so it stands to reason that if both healthy, there is no ceiling as to how good they can be. Or how great they will be remembered.
Wagering Update – So far so good. It doesn’t look like I made any huge mistakes except for thinking that the Vancouver Canucks had any fight in them. Time to blow that thing up. Step 1 – Fire the Coach. Step 2 – Trade a goaltender. Step 3 – Kindly ask the Sedins to play when it matters. Step 4 – Light the city on fire again.