Who says no one ever remembers who finished second?
I'm not only going to attempt to remember and honour players that finished "second," but I'll even build a team using only players that never got the chance to hoist Lord Stanley's Mug in their careers.
Some of these players never even got to taste a loss in the finals, but they had quality, if not spectacular, careers on an individual level. However, the ultimate team success escaped them.
As always when I create my fantasy teams (see my article here) I try to abide by certain restrictions to make the choices a bit tougher as well as more accurate.
So once again the roster will be filled with players being slotted in their natural positions. (The Internet Hockey Database or Wikipedia will be used as the sources.)
One other factor for the selection of my fantasy team will be that I'll stick to players I witnessed play in the NHL before they retired (1983-present). Also, the players would have to have played at least a decade in the league.
Let's get started with the goaltenders. This was a tough duo to select because most of the great, or even good, NHL goalies have sipped from the Cup and a few quality ones haven't retired yet, like Joseph and Kolzig.
He won the Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP) on a losing team in 1987.
He was a very solid goaltender, but played on very bad teams.
Honorable mention to Kirk MacLean, John Vanbiesbrouck, Pete Peeters, and Mike Liut.
On defense,"Team Cup-less" would be quite formidable with this group of six.
With his booming shot from the point, he tallied 237 goals in his 16-year career, and collected a Norris Trophy. But, I'm sure he would trade every goal and that trophy for one Stanley Cup.
He was a steady and solid defender in the NHL, but was unable to capture a Stanley Cup. Hartsburg played 10 seasons, all with Minnesota, collecting 413 points along the way.
He was one of the best all-time offensive rear-guards ever to skate in the NHL. He tallied 1,232 points in his 22-year career. Unfortunately for Housley, he spent much of that time with teams that were never cup contenders.
He was considered the pioneer for Swedish born players that come to North America to earn a living in the NHL. However, he spent 16 of his 17 seasons on very poor Toronto Maple Leaf teams.
He broke into the NHL in 1976 and retired after the 1992-93 season, while playing with the Winnipeg Jets. Carlyle was awarded the James Norris Trophy in 1981, but never came close to winning a Stanley Cup.
He played 16 NHL seasons, most spent in Philadelphia. Howe accumulated 742 points over that span, but was never able to win it all.
Honorable mention to Dave Babych.
*Of note, Rocco was nice enough to catch my error as I previously had Rod Langway slotted as a defender, but he won the Cup with Montreal in 1979.
He was a goal scorer in the truest sense. He combined with Peter Stastny to form a dynamic duo for the Quebec Nordiques. He finished his career with 548 goals, but no Stanley Cups.
He spent most of his career as one third of the "Triple Crown Line" in Los Angeles. Simmer scored 50+ goals twice in his 10-year career, but failed to win it all.
He was a fierce competitor and quality all-around player in his 12 seasons in the NHL (all with the St. Louis Blues). He scored 30 or more goals four times and eclipsed the 40-goal mark twice.
He spent 14 seasons in the NHL with the Flyers, Bruins, and Minnesota North Stars. He scored 425 goals in the NHL but only came as close as the finals for a chance to win the Stanley Cup.
He is, in my humble opinion, the most skilled and talented player never to win the Stanley Cup. His loyalty to the city of Buffalo later in his career was probably the biggest reason he never sipped from the coveted mug. However, his lack of Stanley Cup was not for lack of performance in the postseason. Perreault ended his career with 103 points in 90 playoff games.
He was one of the fastest and most skilled players to grace the NHL. Unfortunately, he joined the New York Islanders right after their dynasty years and was never able to capture a Stanley Cup.
He would have to be considered the first true European import to have star success in the NHL. A true professional he ended his 15-year career with 1,239 points playing for Quebec, New Jersey, and St. Louis.
He spent 16 seasons in the NHL, nine of which were with the Winnipeg Jets. Most of his career was spent watching Edmonton and Calgary dominate the then Smythe Division. Winnipeg usually bowed out in the first round of the playoffs to either the Oilers or Flames, but it was't for lack of production from Hawerchuk. He ended his playing career with 99 points in 97 postseason games.
Honorable mention to a few other centremen that enjoyed great careers. Bernie Federko, Darryl Sittler, Marcel Dionne, and Adam Oates.
He is an instant selection. Injuries kept this giant of a man from dominating the league for many years. Neely competed in 12 injury plagued seasons finishing with 395 goals in just 726 games. His goal scoring also went beyond the regular season. He notched 57 playoff goals in only 93 games.
He was a dynamo of a player. Vancouver's run to the cup finals in 1994 was led by the "Russian Rocket." He combined highlight reel goals with clutch scoring that season. Another player that dealt with constant injuries throughout his career, Pavel was still able to put up great offensive numbers in his 12-year career.
He played a fierce style of hockey and made a living doing what men his size usually don't: score goals. Ciccarelli would have his best chance at the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 1995, in which they bowed out to the New Jersey Devils in the finals. Ciccarelli amassed 608 goals in his 19-year career and scored another 73 post season goals.
He recorded an NHL record 15 consecutive 30-goal seasons. Gartner was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs from the New York Rangers in 1993-94, the very season the Rangers would go on to win the Stanley Cup. In 21 NHL seasons Garther accumulated amazing 708 goals and 43 more in the postseason.
Honorable mention to Trevor Linden "Mr. Canuck" a quality player and true professional, came closest in 1994 but was unable to ever hoist the Stanley Cup.
There are my selections for Team Cup-less. Please let me know who you think I might have missed.
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