TORONTO — Daniel Alfredsson, Roberto Luongo, Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin have something in common ahead of their induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday:
None have won the Stanley Cup.
Why write about it now, before such a celebration of their incredible careers? Because they talk about it themselves and their attitude about it says a lot about the competitors they were.
Each came excruciatingly close, and it hurts even at a time like this.
Alfredsson came to three wins in 2007, when the Ottawa Senators lost the Stanley Cup Finals to the Anaheim Ducks in five games. After the ring ceremony in the Great Hall on Friday, he recalled the details of the show as if it were a year ago, not 15 years ago.
“A traumatic experience,” Alfredsson said.
Luongo and the Sedin twins came within a game in 2011, when the Vancouver Canucks lost the Cup Final to the Boston Bruins in seven games. Asked about the importance of winning Olympic gold – something these four players also have in common – Luongo and Daniel Sedin each raised the issue of the Cup.
“At the end of the day, I think you are what you have earned,” said Daniel Sedin. “That’s why I really regret not winning the Stanley Cup, because I think it’s the hardest thing to win in hockey. It’s a grueling journey, first 82 games, then the playoffs. When you’re one game away from winning it all, this is the one…”
He didn’t finish his sentence.
“I don’t regret the way we did things,” he continued. “I think in the end we lost against a very good team. But yeah, we’re definitely looking back at that time.”
The Olympics matter. It’s the Hockey Hall of Fame, not the NHL Hall of Fame. The committee reviews all of each nominee’s work.
Doing Olympic training, let alone winning a gold medal, is an elite accomplishment, especially when NHL players participate. Although the tournament only lasts about two weeks, it’s best against best.
Alfredsson and the Sedins won gold with Sweden in 2006 in Turin, beating Finland 3-2 in the final.
“I know it’s something I’ve always wanted,” Alfredsson said. “Growing up, the goal was the national team. The NHL wasn’t even on the map.”
Luongo won gold with Canada in 2010 in Vancouver, beating the United States 3-2 in overtime in the final, and in 2014 in Sochi, beating Sweden 3-0 in the final. He replaced Martin Brodeur as the starter at the tournament in Vancouver, playing in his home country and on the local NHL rink.
“It’s huge, especially for me, especially because I didn’t win any of the other stuff,” Luongo said. “Obviously it’s probably one of the greatest moments of my career, considering everything, where it was in Vancouver and how it went and how the game ended. [With] so much pressure on everyone, to play and do it, it was such a euphoric moment.”
The Cup also matters, of course. But so much is beyond a player’s control, from the team that selects him in the NHL Draft to what happens next, and it’s only going to get harder to win the Cup now that the NHL has moved on to 32 teams.
How many players have their names inscribed in silver but don’t have their portraits engraved on glass in the Great Hall, and how many Hall of Famers have never won the Cup?
Alfredsson, Luongo and the Sedins join 24 other players to make their NHL debuts since the 1967-68 expansion and enter the Hockey Hall of Fame without winning the Cup — players like Jarome Iginla, Phil Housley, Mike Gartner, Marcel Dionne, Mats Sundin, Adam Oates, Dino Ciccarelli, Gilbert Perreault, Dale Hawerchuk and Borje Salming.
Two lessons to learn:
First, the Stanley Cup is so hard to win that you can be one of the greatest players in hockey history and never wear it over your head.
Second, chasing the Cup can help you become great even if you don’t win it. If you’re chasing the Cup so hard that not winning it bothers you when you’re about to enter the Hockey Hall of Fame, well, maybe that’s one of the reasons you’re found in the Hall of Fame.
“It’s a great honour,” said Daniel Sedin, wearing his Cup ring as he stood under his glass plate in the Great Hall, “but I think I would have preferred to win the Stanley Cup, if You see what I mean.
“It’s a team win, and I think we’re all about the team. It’s more individual. I mean, yeah, that’s probably the ultimate individual prize you can win, but I think we’re all team guys.”
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