TORONTO– Daniel Alfredsson, Roberto Luongo, Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin have something in common as they head towards Monday’s Hockey Hall of Fame induction:
None won the Stanley Cup.
Before such a celebration of their incredible careers, why write about it now? Because they bring it up themselves and their take on it appeals to the competitors they were.
Everyone came frighteningly close, and it hurts even at a time like this.
Alfredsson came within three wins in 2007 when the Ottawa Senators lost the Stanley Cup Finals in five games to the Anaheim Ducks. After Friday’s ring ceremony in the Great Hall, he recalled details of the series as if it had been a year, not 15.
“Traumatic experience,” Alfredsson said.
Luongo and the Sedin twins came together within a game in 2011 when the Vancouver Canucks lost the cup final to the Boston Bruins in seven. When asked about the importance of winning Olympic gold – something these four players also have in common – Luongo and Daniel Sedin each addressed the cup issue themselves.
“In the end I think you are what you won,” said Daniel Sedin. “That’s why I really regret not winning the Stanley Cup because I think that’s the hardest thing to win in hockey. It’s a tough journey, first 82 games and then the playoffs. When you’re one game away from winning the whole thing, that’s the…”
He didn’t finish the sentence.
“I have no regrets about how we did things,” he continued. “I think in the end we lost to a very good team. But yeah, we’re definitely looking back on that moment.”
The Olympic Games are important. This is the Hockey Hall of Fame, not the NHL Hall of Fame. The committee considers the entire work of each candidate.
Making an Olympic roster, let alone winning a gold medal, is an elite achievement, especially when NHL players compete. Although the tournament only lasts about two weeks, it’s best-on-best.
Alfredsson and the Sedins won gold with Sweden in Turin 2006, beating Finland 3-2 in the final.
“I know that’s what 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 Vancouver 2010, where he beat the United States 3-2 in overtime in the final, and in Sochi 2014, where he beat Sweden 3-0 in the final. He took over from Martin Brodeur as a starter during the tournament in Vancouver and played in his home country and NHL home arena.
“It’s huge, especially for me, especially since I didn’t win any of the other things,” said Luongo. “Obviously that’s probably one of the greatest moments of my career considering everything where it was in Vancouver and how it came about and how the game ended. [With] so much pressure on everyone to perform and make it, it was such a euphoric moment.”
Of course, the trophy also plays a role. But so much is out of a player’s control, from which team they’re picked by in the NHL draft to what happens afterward, and it only gets harder to win the trophy now that the NHL is on 32 teams has grown.
How many players have their names engraved in silver but their portraits are not etched into glass in the Great Hall, and how many Hall of Famers have never won the trophy?
Alfredsson, Luongo and the Sedins join 24 other players who made their NHL debuts since the 1967-68 expansion and made it into the Hockey Hall of Fame without winning the trophy – players like Jarome Iginla, Phil Housley, Mike Gartner , Marcel Dionne, Mats Sundin, Adam Oates, Dino Ciccarelli, Gilbert Perreault, Dale Hawerchuk, and Borje Salming.
Two drawing lessons:
First, the Stanley Cup is so difficult to win that you can be one of the greatest players in hockey history without ever lifting it over your head.
Second, striving for the cup can help make you great even if you don’t win it. If you’re chasing the trophy so hard that it annoys you not to win it before you’re inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, well, maybe that’s one of the reasons you were inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“It’s a great honor,” said Daniel Sedin, who wore his trophy ring while standing under his glass plaque in the Great Hall, “but I think I’d rather have won the Stanley Cup, if you know what I mean.
“It’s a team win and I think we’re all about the team. That’s more individual. I mean, yeah, that’s probably the ultimate individual award to win, but I think we’re all team-first guys.”
NHL stats contributed
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