Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Who wins, an all-time roster of stars with no Cups or stars who won Cups with multiple teams?

With a new set of names soon to be engraved on the Stanley Cup and the offseason looming, let’s kill some time with a roster challenge.

How about this one: Who wins, a team made up of guys who never won the Stanley Cup, or guys who won Stanley Cups with multiple teams?

Let’s start with the obvious. By setting the rules like this, we’re wiping out the vast majority of NHL stars. That’s the beauty of it. By definition, we lose all the guys who only ever played for one franchise, like Mario Lemieux, Nicklas Lidstrom, Joe Sakic or Denis Potvin. We lose everyone who only won a single Cup, like Ray Bourque, Teemu Selanne, Brian Leetch and Luc Robitaille. And we lose anyone on the surprisingly long list of players who played for multiple teams and won multiple Cups but only ever got a ring with a single team, including Wayne Gretzky, Dominik Hasek, Bobby Orr and Jaromir Jagr.

Who’s left? Enough to make two pretty good rosters, although it won’t be easy. Then again, why would we do this if it was?

But first, a few ground rules. We’ll limit this to the modern era, which is to say post-1967, and when in doubt we’ll lean towards more recent stars. We’ll try to keep position in mind, although we’ll assume that some of the best players in history can shift around if we need them to. We’re disqualifying any active player from the “no Cups” roster; if they’re still playing, it’s not fair to say that they won’t win a Cup. And we’re obviously only looking at Cups won as a player, without worrying about any rings a guy may have earned as a coach or executive.

Makes sense? Cool, let’s make up some fake rosters to argue about.

First line

There’s no surprise on who’s heading up the top unit on Team No Cup. It’s the same name that always shows up on these lists: Marcel Dionne, one of the greatest offensive players of all-time but a guy who never made it out of the second round. We’ll make him team captain, and we’ll give him two of my personal favorite players on his wings in Jarome Iginla and Paul Kariya. That’s three Hall-of-Famers and about 1,750 goals. Not a bad start.

Can Team Multi-Cup match them? They can get off to a solid start down the middle with their own team captain in Mark Messier, who had Cups with the Oilers and Rangers and (checks notes) not the Canucks. Let’s put Brett Hull on one wing, thanks to Cup wins in Dallas and Detroit, and hope nobody’s manning the replay review booth.

As always, left wings are tough to find, especially since six-time champ Frank Mahovlich just misses our post-expansion cutoff based on his last Toronto title coming in 1967. But we can at least give them a winger who shot left, as Mark Recchi joins Team Multi-Cup’s top line thanks to rings earned in Pittsburgh, Carolina and Boston. That gives us a top line that accounts for roughly 4,800 points.

Three players per roster into this, and it’s too close to call. Team Multi-Cup has slightly better numbers, but I kind of want to see Team No Cup in action a little more. Let’s call it even and move onto the second lines.

Second line

Team No Cup still has plenty of options, but I’m going to give this line a mid-90s focus. We’ll start with a pair of players who had a ton of real-life success together, as we put Adam Oates at center and give him Cam Neely on his wing. Will it makes Oates sad to see Hull on the other side? Maybe, but I’m guessing he’ll be OK, especially when he looks over on his other wing and sees converted center Eric Lindros. How much room do you think a finesse guy like Oates would get with Lindros and Neely running around out there? The answer: All the room.

Team Multi-Cup has an elite option available down the middle, as Bryan Trottier makes the team thanks to four Cups with the Islanders dynasty and two more with the early-90s Penguins. We’ll give him another six-time champ on one wing, as Glenn Anderson’s late-season trade to the 1994 Rangers pays off. And we’ll round out the line with Joey Mullen, who won with Trottier in Pittsburgh after already earning a ring in Calgary with the 1989 Flames.

Trottier’s the best player from this group, but I think Team No Cup has the more dangerous threesome. We’ll give them an edge as we move on to the bottom six.

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