July 1 — Adventures, Accolades & Two-Game Advantage

On Tap For Today — Yesterday we regretfully omitted Montreal from Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final! We apologize for the mistake, and kindly offer it up as bulletin board material.

Wednesday’s Wheelhouse

DON’T TOEWS ME: Jonathan Toews indicated he plans on returning to the Blackhawks next season, this after missing all of the 2020-21 season with chronic immune response syndrome. We’re certainly looking forward to him stepping on the ice again!

HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED: Though it would have been blasphemous 20 years ago, The Red Wings have hired former Avalanche star Alex Tanguay to fill their assistant coach position that’s been open since Dan Bylsma’s departure. Peace offering, anyone?

CAN YOU REPEAT THAT?: Wednesday’s 3-1 Game 2 win gave the Lightning a 2-0 series lead, greatly increasing their odds of hoisting the Stanley Cup this season. Of the 11 teams to win the first two games of the Final in the last 20 seasons, nine have gone on to win it all.

IT’S BEEN A WHILE: The Canadiens are set to host their first Stanley Cup Final game since June 9, 1993, and though they were hoping to do it in front of more fans than they’ve had at the Bell Centre all season, their request to increase capacity to more than 10,000 fans was denied.

THAT LOOKS FAMILIAR: Blake Coleman’s impressive Game 2 goal gave us some moments of deja vu… except it did in fact happen before.

Top Shelf Thursday – Top-5 Stanley Cup Misadventures

I don’t know how many times you need to hear it, but the Stanley Cup is the greatest trophy in all of sports. It’s just a statement of fact. One aspect that makes it the greatest is that after a team wins the Cup, it goes on a journey with each player for a day. Throughout the years stories have emerged, and it has been confirmed that players will go all out to celebrate their 24 hours with the Cup. In most scenarios, the Cup is safe and the Keeper of the Cup is happy, but there have been instances in history where the Cup needed repairs after some misadventures.

The Damage You’ve Done 

In 1987, Mark Messier and the Edmonton Oilers won the Stanley Cup after beating the Philadelphia Flyers in seven games. The 26-year-old alternate captain took the Cup to a gentleman’s club, where it suffered multiple cracks. It is rumored that the Stanley Cup was on stage where it was incorporated into a dance. Seven years later, Messier won while playing with the Rangers and took the trophy to Scores in Manhattan — some things never change.  

Don’t You (Forget About Me)

That is exactly what happened. In 1924, the Canadiens were no strangers to winning and beat the Calgary Tigers, earning another Stanley Cup victory. On their way to celebrate, they got a flat tire, and once repaired, they continued their journey not realizing they left the Stanley Cup behind on the side of the road. This should make you feel a bit better about yourself when you misplace your car keys. 

Light ‘Em Up, Up, Up I’m On Fire 

After winning the Stanley Cup in 1940, the Rangers celebrated by paying off the mortgage of Madison Square Garden. Without thinking clearly — the staff and players lit the mortgage on fire while it was in the Cup, which clearly caused the Cup to catch fire. The Rangers came up with the brilliant solution to put to fire out with their urine. No wonder it took 54 years for the Rangers to secure another Stanley Cup victory.

Bonfire Burning 

During the Toronto Maple Leafs 1962 Stanley Cup celebration. a bonfire was lit and players incorrectly used the Cup as firewood. To no one’s surprise, the Cup needed extensive repairs after finding its way into the blaze. I can only hope alcohol played a part in the decision-making that evening. 

Here Comes That Sinking Feeling 

Both Mario Lemieux and Patrick Roy attempted to take the Cup swimming after they won the trophy. It has been confirmed — now multiple times — that the Cup will in fact sink to the bottom of a pool within 10 seconds. Unless you want to come face to face with a hostile Keeper of the Cup, it is best to keep it on land. 

It’s Not the Cup, But I’ll Take It!

Tuesday night’s announcement of the NHL’s major award winners didn’t come with the same fanfare of past ceremonies, but it did present an opportunity to celebrate some incredible performances from what was a season like no other.

Unsurprisingly, Connor McDavid was the big winner — netting his second Hart Trophy in five years, along with a third Ted Lindsay Award. The 105-point man was joined by a trio of first-time winners — Calder earner Kirill Kaprizov, Norris victor Adam Fox, and, yes, even Marc-André Fleury with his first Vezina at age 36.

Hockey is the ultimate team game, and while individual accolades aren’t the end goal, they do offer some nice recognition for standout campaigns. So even as the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens deservedly take center stage, let’s take time to acknowledge each of these individual achievements.

Connor McDavid

Just as we offer contextual appreciation for Alex Ovechkin’s offensive exploits in an era where scoring is down — relatively speaking, anyway — McDavid’s 105 points (33 goals, 72 assists) in 56 games has to be recognized with similar perspective. The top point-getter that didn’t share the ice with the 24-year-old McDavid this season was Brad Marchand, whose 69 points left him 36 shy of the lead. No wonder McDavid earned the first unanimous Hart vote since Wayne Gretzky in 1982!

Kirill Kaprizov

There was much anticipation ahead of the NHL arrival of 2015 draftee Kirill Kaprizov, who spent five years back home in the KHL before making his way to Minnesota. Turns out, the 24-year-old (he is three months younger than McDavid) was worth the wait, notching 27 goals and 51 points in 55 games for the Wild. Kaprizov has already forged a bond alongside Joel Eriksson Ek and Jordan Greenway, offering plenty of hope in the Twin Cities.

Adam Fox

Any time you can achieve something previously done by only Bobby Orr, you know you’ve accomplished something pretty special. On Tuesday, Adam Fox became just the second blue liner — along with the Boston Bruins legend — to win the Norris Trophy in his second season. The New York Rangers rearguard emerged from a tight vote ahead of Colorado’s Cale Makar and former Norris winner Victor Hedman thanks to 47 points in 55 games from the back end. Fox’s Norris victory also enshrines him as the first defenseman to win the Norris Trophy in the modern era on a non-playoff team.

Marc-André Fleury

Who needs a Cup? Fleury has three of those from his time in Pittsburgh. What he hadn’t achieved across his 17 celebrated NHL seasons — at least until Tuesday — was recognition as the season’s best goalie. Not only does the Vezina represent a much-deserved career achievement, but it also puts a stamp on an incredible campaign in which Flower went from an oft-rumored trade chip for the Vegas Golden Knights, to their most important player.

Congrats to all the winners, young (McDavid, Kaprizov, Fox) and old (Fleury)!