In hockey, there used to be one goal....that was to win the Stanley Cup. It didn't matter how much money you made when you won it, it didn't matter how ready for the future the team was, the team's cap situation didn't matter.....no the business aspect stayed out of the history books.
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It used to be when a team won the Stanley Cup, the team was engraved forever in hockey history and the team was presented with immortality.
Instead nowadays, the buzz around the Stanley Cup Champions doesn't even last a month. As soon as draft day comes, it seems as if all is forgotten. Does anyone even remember that the Anaheim Ducks are the defending Stanley Cup Champions? And it's not recent either, it's the same story for the Hurricanes and the Lightning before them. Don't these teams deserve a little more respect? Sure some will argue the fact that these are non-traditional hockey markets and that's the reason they don't receive a lot of attention. I don't buy that, nobody really refers to the fact that the Red Wings won 3 Cups in a six year span. In fact the last Stanley Cup Champions who still get recognition for their accomplishments would be the '94 Rangers or even the '93 Habs.
So why has this happened? well it's the price of more 'excitement.'
Fans like to see player movement, just look at the ratings for trade deadline day alone, and when you throw in draft day and July 1st, there is much more player movement than ever before. And it's not just the fans, players like to have contracts and the ability to choose where they want to play. Players want to choose whether or not they will play in either Edmonton or Calgary. And sure it seems great for everyone, fans included, but it takes away from the 'team' aspect of hockey.
2007 - The Ducks won the cup, but for most of the 2008 season they were without their Cup Winning Captain: Scott Niedermayer, as well as Teemu Selanne. Not to mention guys like Bryzgalov, Penner and McDonald are no longer with the team.
2006 - The Hurricanes won the cup, but then in 2007; Gerber, Recchi and Weight are gone. **Sure Recchi and Weight were deadline pick-ups but they still shared a Stanley Cup with the rest of the team.
It's almost impossible to build an NHL dynasty under the current system. Take the recent Buffalo Sabres. That was a team that had potential for greatness. They could have controlled the league for years. Unfortunately, not all of the players were on board and they lost their key parts to free agency.
What will it take to have a team remembered for it's Stanley Cup victory these days? Well it will probably take a come-from-behind underdog to win the Cup, like the '06 Oilers.
Every NHL team and player should have one goal at the beginning of the season and that is to win a Stanley Cup. There should be no "write-off" seasons. The Montreal Canadiens are a prime example of that. Most people, myself included predicted this Habs team to finish in the bottom five of the league. Well here we are nearing the end of the season and they are the first team in the Eastern Conference that has clinched a playoff spot.
Hockey is about winning, not planning to win in the future, and if the Stanley Cup is not in the current plans, then you're in the wrong league.
If you have a chance to make the playoffs or a chance to get a better draft pick, you go with the playoffs. The Draft is no guarantee when it comes to building teams. Calgary, Chicago, Columbus, Los Angeles, Nashville, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, and Washington have all drafted well in recent years, and yet none of them have a Stanley Cup to show for it.
Don't get me wrong, the Draft is very important. But more important is having a team and GM that knows what they're doing. It's easy to draft Crosby and Ovechkin, or even Stamkos, as they are obvious centre pieces to build around. The challenge comes with building, and if the GM doesn't know how to build a team, well then it doesn't matter if you draft Stamkos or your next door neighbour. But if your GM does know how to build, he can build a winner with a 1st overall, but he can do it with 30th overall pick as well. (Cue in Brian Burke)
The Stanley Cup used to represent hockey immortality, it's unfortunate that it now represents a pay raise.
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