The Stanley Cup at Avalanche

(Tampa, Fla.) 1980s Islanders can rest easy: Their status will not be threatened for at least two years.

Updated at 1:16 p.m

Guillaume Lefrançois

Guillaume Lefrançois
The press

Artturi Lehkonen scored – again – the decisive goal, and the Colorado Avalanche won 2-1 on Sunday and won the Stanley Cup Finals in six games. The former Nordiques are triumphing for the third time since leaving Quebec, following conquests in 1996 and 2001.

And you don’t have to look far for the common thread between these two conquests and this year’s. That link is Joe Sakic, who was in demand for post-game interviews as were his players.

Sakic won both cups as the Avalanche captain. Here he is now in the architect’s role, the one who fished out the pillars of this team that became Cale Makar and Mikko Rantanen, the one who got Nazem Kadri, Devon Toews and Lehkonen.

The nostalgic will see a connection to Quebec, where the Avalanche was built in the 1990s.

But there is an even more direct connection between the past and the present. Sakic brought it up when asked to compare the experience of winning as a player versus as a GM.

“When you play you have butterflies in front of the game and when it starts you can change the game. When you’re not playing…”

He paused before continuing his thought. “I know how Pierre felt. You have to be careful, that’s all you can do. »

“Pierre” is Pierre Lacroix, the last GM of the Nordiques, who was appointed to this position in 1994 and died in December 2020. Lacroix followed the team in Denver and made them a force in the NHL for years.

“I learned so much from him,” said Sakic. He gave me the chance to work here after I retired. He’s a great mentor, a great person. I learned a lot from him. I wouldn’t be here without Pierre. »

steamroller

It’s an entire hockey team that Sakic put together, starting with Makar, who he drafted in 4se Rank in 2017. The same Makar finishes his season with the Norris Trophy (best defenseman) and the Conn-Smythe (playoff MVP).

The Avalanche take top honors after dominating the NHL since October. The team finished 2nd in the seasone Rank of the overall ranking, at 1ah Rank in the Western Conference with 119 points.

In the playoffs, the team suffered just four losses and won two series by sweep. Since the NHL introduced the 4-on-7 format in 1986, only the 1987-88 Edmonton Oilers have had a better run with just two losses. The Avalanche became the fifth team to have just four losses en route to the Stanley Cup, the others being the 1993 Canadiens, 1995 New Jersey Devils, 1997 Detroit Red Wings and 2012 Los Angeles Kings.

Sakic and his leadership team have played a crucial role, but the GM has realized that he can’t be the first to win the trophy like he was in his day!

“We watched the celebrations and the owner [Stan Kroenke] asked me, “How does it feel to wait so long this time?” I asked him, “How much longer do I have to wait like this?!” Sakic laughed.


PHOTO GUILLAUME LEFRANÇOIS, THE PRESS

Josh Kroenke, Joe Sakic and Stan Kroenke

A few minutes later, as the Amalie Arena rink began to slowly empty and the players returned to the locker room, Sakic, Stan Kroenke and Josh Kroenke (the owner’s son) were surrounded by cameras with the Stanley Cup in their arms.

Lyrics by Stamko

The Lightning, for his part, fails in his quest for a third straight Stanley Cup. No team has done that since the New York Islanders of 1980-1983.

Difficult to say if it was precisely the fact of missing that appointment with the story, but Steven Stamkos and Patrick Maroon, the first two players to face the media, held back their emotions badly.

Maroon, who was aiming for a fourth straight trophy (he won in St. Louis in 2019), had swollen eyes.

You’ll be amazed when our injury report comes out, he whispered. We have not given up, we are warriors. I’m so proud of the boys for what we’ve won over three years. We’ve had quite a journey, but we fell short tonight.

Patrick Maroon

Stamkos and some core members of the team suffered defeat in the finals for the second time since 2015.

“It hurts just as much as it did in our first final,” he said. But it’s time to step back and realize how difficult it is to get here. Congratulations to the Avalanche, they are a great team, they are the champions. »

Stamkos, meanwhile, recalled the milestones his team achieved in the playoffs. “In the first round, we play against one of the best players in the NHL, the player who is most useful to his team. [Auston Matthews]. In the second round we meet the winners of the Presidents’ Trophy [les Panthers de la Floride]. In the semifinals we will play against the winner of the Vézina Trophy [Igor Shesterkin] and in the final against the winner Norris and now Conn-Smythe. It didn’t stop. That’s what makes losing so hard because you realize how hard you’ve worked for it. »

The defeat is particularly bitter for Corey Perry. The former Canadian lost in the Finals for the third straight year, he who lost with the Habs last year and 2020 with the Dallas Stars. His second Stanley Cup ring (after 2007) is yet to come.

Despite the momentary pain, Perry gave his teammates a few cheering shots after the handshake.

Patrick Maroon, a great friend of Perry’s, thought of him too, but also of the veterans looking for a first trophy.

“Honestly I feel sorry for Bellemare, Nash, Hagel, Elliott and Perry. We owe them. I hope we come back here next year. »

Leave a Comment