Sunday, August 08, 2010

The Last Time... the difference between trophies and Cups

Hockey – at least as much as its major sports brethren – is a “team” sport. And part of that is its lack of tolerance for gaudy statistics among its champions. At least lately. For example, the last time…

…a 50-goal scorer played on a Stanley Cup winner was in 2001. Joe Sakic netted 54 goals in leading the Colorado Avalanche to a Stanley Cup. Only four times in the past 20 years has a Stanley Cup winner featured a 50-goal scorer (Sakic turning the trick twice), once in the last 13 seasons. In fact, no Richard Trophy winner has added a Stanley Cup to his resume in the year he led the league in goals over the past 20 seasons (and yes, that includes the goal-scoring leaders pre-dating the introduction of the Richard Trophy in 1999). Only 11 times in that span did the goal-scoring leader on the Stanley Cup winner rank in the top-ten in goals scored.

…a 100-point scorer won a Stanley Cup was in 2009. That would be when Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby each crossed the 100-point threshold in leading the Pittsburgh Penguins to a title. But don’t get the idea that it is a regular occurrence. While a Stanley Cup winner has featured a 100-point scorer in seven of the past 20 seasons, only four Cup winners had such a scorer in the last 17 seasons. On only four other occasions did the team-leading scorer on a Stanley Cup winner finish with more than 90 points. In fact, in the past 20 seasons there are only three Ross Trophy winners who added the Stanley Cup to their hardware take. Nine of the 20 Stanley Cup champions featured top scorers who did not place in the top ten among the league’s top point-getters.

We are not arguing that any player (cough-Ovechkin-cough…. cough-Backstrom-cough) should tank the last two weeks of the season to keep from getting to 50 goals or 100 points in an effort to improve his chances to win a Cup. We are just saying is that they are not particularly valuable benchmarks with respect to team success. But you knew that already… Hockey is, after all, a team sport.