Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Five stars whose bad timing cost them a Cup

You have to feel for NHL stars who never win a Stanley Cup. In most cases, their lack of a championship is hardly their fault. Hockey is a team game, and one player can only carry you so far. But that's probably little comfort to players who finish their career without ever skating a lap with the trophy. And that's especially true for the guys who just missed.

For example, Marcel Dionne is often mentioned as the greatest player to never win a Cup, and he may well be. But he also never came especially close. His team never made it out of the second round, and the three franchises he played for over his 18-year career – the Wings, Kings and Rangers – never won any Cups at all over that span.

Other players have come close in a given year. Gilbert Perrault helped get the Sabres to the final in 1975, and Roberto Luongo was one win away from a ring in 2011 with the Canucks. Brian Propp may have had the toughest luck of anyone -- he went to the Cup final on five separate occasions, but had the misfortune of running into an Islanders, Oilers or Penguins dynasty each time.

But then there's the group of star players who came close in a very different way: the guys who just had bad timing. They were great players, and they played for great teams. But they managed to be just a little too early or a little too late to be part of a Cup team, and ended up retiring without a ring despite most of their teammates getting one.

So today, let's look back at five players who had long and successful NHL careers that didn't include Stanley Cups, but who just missed being in the right place at the right time to win one.

Mike Gartner

Gartner hadn't come especially close to a Cup over the first decade-plus of his career with the Capitals, North Stars or Rangers. But in 1994, he finally found himself on a Cup favorite. By March, the Rangers were on their way to their second Presidents' Trophy in three years. With Mark Messier leading the way, Brian Leetch on the blueline and Mike Keenan behind the bench, the Rangers seemed set to finally break the franchise's 54-year Cup drought.

And as it turns out, they did. But Gartner didn't get to be a part of it. In yet another deadline deal, the 33-year-old veteran was sent to the Maple Leafs in exchange for Glenn Anderson.

Gartner and the Leafs nearly made it to the final themselves, before falling to the Canucks in the Western final. Meanwhile, the Rangers went on to win it all at Madison Square Garden (despite not getting all that much production out of Anderson along the way).

For Anderson, it was his sixth Cup ring. Gartner played until 1998, but never made it out of the first round again. He retired without a championship; in hindsight, he may have only missed by a few months.

>> Read the full post at The Hockey News

1 comment:

  1. Colorado beat Detroit in the conference finals in '96, not the second round.