Stanley Cup repeat challenge

Posted on June 9, 2017
Filed Under Commentary, Sports | Leave a Comment

IF the Pittsburgh Penguins win this year’s Stanley Cup, they will be the first team to win two in a row since the Detroit Red Wings did 19 years ago.
There have been several articles about why it is harder to build and maintain a dynasty in today’s game. Salary cap parity is cited as the main reason. Free agency and trades to stay under the cap are definitely a major factor.
Watching the playoffs from the perspective of a fan who remembers when Bill Barilko disappeared, I think there may be another factor. I remember seeing Allan Stanley and another Leaf at a PR function shortly after their 1963 Stanley Cup win. They looked like they had just been liberated from a concentration camp. Their eyes were dark and sunken. They looked like leather skin stretched over steel cables. They were a mess of scars and bruises. That was after a 70-game season and two rounds of playoffs that ended in April.
One of the all time money players, Mark Messier, said the team that wins the Stanley Cup has pushed itself like a race car red lining its engine for the entire season and then going into two months of even more intense competition.
Players today are supermen from all over the world, chasing contracts that would have bought the league back in the 1960s. Their pace in the second period of overtime is faster than the first period back then.
After 82 games and four rounds of playoffs, players on the team that wins get almost no down time. They’ll rest for a few days and then get back into their fitness routines. Many of them even have $30,000 machines that keep exercising their bodies while they sleep.
It seems to me they must still be tired when they return to camp for the next season.
I read Wayne Gretzky’s “99 Stories Of The Game”. In it he describes a wide range of things that go into producing a cup winning team. He believes, as we so often hear, that mental and emotional toughness throughout the organization are the final decisive factor.
Anyone watching this year’s playoffs has seen how fine the margin is between winning and losing. There were 18 overtime games in the first round alone.
To win two Stanley Cups in a row now is difficult to the point of being hard to truly understand.
I’m a long way from being qualified as an expert on hockey. Of one thing, I remain convinced. There is no other game I have ever seen that combines the speed and skill to create the excitement of Stanley Cup hockey. In olden times, people believed that a thunder and lightning storm was gods bowling. It seems to me lightning strikes more often in hockey than in bowling. DAC


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