Every season, about 23 more players get their names etched into Lord Stanley’s mug. It’s what every young hockey player dreams of, but only a slight percentage of NHL players ever actually experience it. When a team wins the Cup, in addition to each players’ name getting etched into history, they each receive a commemorative Stanley Cup ring.
Before I get into it, let’s be clear about one thing: pretty much any player who’s ever earned a Stanley Cup ring has done just that: they’ve earned it. However, sometimes it’s easy to forget a certain player was on a certain championship team. Maybe it’s because he was a deadline addition who had a quiet postseason, or maybe he was a fresh-faced rookie who hadn’t even really established himself in the league yet.
Either way, when you look through the annals of Stanley Cup winners, you end up finding some pretty surprising names there. Again, it’s not necessarily because they never earned it; it’s more often a case of the winning team being so deep that you can easily forget about a few depth players.
Here is a list of the 15 players you won’t believe have a Stanley Cup ring. Enjoy:
15. Tyler Seguin
Whenever I think of the 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins, it’s never Tyler Seguin who comes to mind. It was the talented center’s first season in the NHL, and I pretty much forget completely that he was even on that team. With the way Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Zdeno Chara, and Tim Thomas carried the load that postseason, Seguin was somewhat of an afterthought.
Seguin registered just 22 points in 74 games during his rookie year, and he dressed for just 13 of the 25 playoff games. Granted he did have a four point game during that run (Game 2 of the Conference Finals against Tampa Bay), but he was pretty quiet throughout the run otherwise. Maybe Seguin will lead the Stars to a Cup in the coming years along with Jamie Benn, but until then I’ll always be surprised that he is the owner of a Stanley Cup ring.
14. Chris Simon
You’ll find a few enforcers on this list, and that’s probably because when I think of them I think of fighting, not winning. However, many tough guys have won Cups during their careers, and some have probably forgotten that pugilist Chris Simon accomplished the feat as a member of the Colorado Avalanche in 1996.
Simon was a member of the Quebec Nordiques when the franchise made the move to Colorado. Much to Nordiques fans’ dismay, the Avalanche won the Cup in its very first year in Denver, which was Simon’s final year with the franchise.
He made stops in Washington, Chicago, NYR, Calgary, NYI, and Minnesota before moving to Europe to finish his career. Unfortunately he never matched the success he had with the Nordiques/Avalanche franchise.
13. Oleg Tverdovsky
What’s most surprising about Oleg Tverdovsky isn’t the fact that he’s been a part of one championship team; it’s that he’s been a part of TWO. Tverdovsky’s first Cup came in 2003 with the New Jersey Devils. He was already past his prime, and I personally have no recollection of him playing on that team; after all, he only dressed for 15 of the 24 playoff games.
Tverdovsky’s second Cup came as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006. He had even less to do with this one as he did his first, as the Ukrainian dressed for only five of Carolina’s 25 postseason contests. A Stanley Cup ring is a Stanley Cup ring, but Tverdovsky was surely a bit lucky to find himself on these two rosters well beyond his prime.
12. Mike Commodore
Mike Commodore would often rock a pretty sweet ginger-fro, and because of that he was a fan favorite wherever he went. That was really the only thing that made him popular though, as he was at best a fringe NHL defenseman and at worst a bit of a defensive liability. However, he did find himself playing in back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals in the mid-2000s.
He fell short in 2004 as a member of the Calgary Flames, but in 2006 he finally got to hoist Lord Stanley over his head as his new team, the Carolina Hurricanes, beat the Edmonton Oilers in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final to win the franchise’s first championship. Commodore had a few more somewhat decent seasons before regressing into obscurity, which is where he’s been for the past seven seasons or so.
11. John Grahame
It was obvious a backup goalie or two was going to make this list, and journeyman backup John Grahame is the first one to appear. Grahame backed up Russian goalie legend Nikolai Khabibulin during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s run to the Stanley Cup in 2004. To be fair to Grahame, some backups go all spring without playing a single second; Grahame did come on in relief once throughout the run.
Sure, he played just over 33 minutes and surrendered two goals in a game the Lightning eventually lost to the Flyers (Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, to be exact), but nonetheless Grahame’s name is etched into hockey history and there’s nothing anyone can do about that.
Following Tampa’s championship, Grahame’s career dwindled after an additional season in Tampa, before ending his NHL career with Carolina.
10. Ben Eager
Former first round pick Ben Eager (I love introducing him like that) is just 32 years old today, but it’s already been nearly three years since he last played an NHL game. Eager’s last game was played with the Edmonton Oilers, so he joins a whole slew of players whose careers were severely damaged by time spent in Edmonton over the past decade or so.
Eager is, however, a Stanley Cup champion and no one will ever be able to take that away from him. He earned his ring in 2010 as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks. Eager led the team in PIMs that season with 120, and he even dressed for 18 of the 22 playoff games, which is more than many who appear on this list. Chicago’s championship teams have all been pretty top-heavy though, and Eager was most certainly not contributing to that top-heaviness.
9. Nick Kypreos
Nick Kypreos is pretty annoying as an “analyst” on Sportsnet these days, but before that gig he was an NHL hockey player, and some people probably forget that. Kypreos played for the Capitals, Whalers, Rangers, and Maple Leafs in his day, but it was with the Rangers in 1994 that he earned his one only Stanley Cup ring.
Most people forget Kypreos was even on this team. Many, in fact, forget that this Rangers team had anyone on it who wasn’t a part of a few of the Oilers championship teams of the 1980s (I kid, I kid). One reason you probably forgot Kypreos played on the team is because he barely played on the team, dressing for just 46 regular season games that year and just three more in the postseason.
8. Andre Racicot
Coming in at number eight on our list is everybody’s favorite
sieve goalie, Andre Racicot. Racicot, who earned the endearing nickname “Red Light” Racicot for obvious reasons, was always sort of a league-wide joke throughout his 68-game career, all spent as a backup for Patrick Roy in Montreal. He played parts of five seasons in Montreal before his permanent relegation to various minor leagues.
While playing in those various leagues—be it the IHL, ECHL, WPHL (?!) and others—he carried with him the Stanley Cup ring he was awarded as a member of the championship 1993 Canadiens squad. Of course Patrick Roy carried that team on his back , but he couldn’t have done it without a reliable backup, right? Right?
7. Roman Turek
Another backup goalie to find his way onto our list here is Roman Turek. Now, to call him a straight-up backup might be harsh, as he did have seasons in which he played nearly 70 games and he even won the William M. Jennings Trophy in 1999 and 2000, once as a member of the Dallas Stars (as backup) and once as a member of the Blues (as starter).
It was before he even became a starter that Turek managed to snag his sole cup ring, and that was as Ed Belfour’s backup in Dallas in 1999. Turek never found his way onto the ice during the 1999 postseason, as Belfour played well during the run and Turek was never called upon for relief. However, he dressed as backup every game, and for that reason is the proud owner of a Cup ring.
6. Dan Hinote
Dan Hinote was a depth forward who really had trouble finding a permanent home on an NHL team. The closest he ever came was with the Colorado Avalanche early in his career, and that just so happens to be the place that he won his one and only Stanley Cup ring that you most certainly forgot that he won. He was part of the victorious 2001 team, which was his first full year in the NHL.
The rest of Hinote’s career was relatively uneventful, playing three seasons with the St. Louis Blues from 2006 to 2009, never playing in more than 58 games in any of those seasons. Hinote retired young and actually spent four seasons from 2010 to 2014 as an assistant coach for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
5. Dan Carcillo
When I think of Dan Carcillo, I think of a rude s***-disturber with not enough skill for the best hockey league in the world. If I were fair (I’m not), I’d also think “Stanley Cup Champion” when he comes up, because believe it or not that’s exactly what he is.
The widely-hated pugilist and pest did become a bit of a journeyman in the NHL, playing in a total of 429 games for five different teams. One of those teams he played for was the 2013 edition of the Chicago Blackhawks, which is the year he won his only Stanley Cup. Interestingly enough, he actually played for the Kings the year they won in 2014, but wasn’t there for the postseason so he didn’t get a ring for that one, obviously.
4. Stephane Fiset
There was room for one more backup goalie on our list of players who you won’t believe have a Stanley Cup ring, and that spot belongs to Stephane Fiset. To be fair, Fiset was more of a 1A/1B type of goalie than a full-on backup, and he was essentially the starter in Colorado for the franchise’s first season in Denver… that is until the Avalanche traded for Patrick Roy and spoiled that party for him.
Fiset backed up Roy for the remainder for the 1995-96 season on his way to his one and only Stanley Cup ring. He played a grand total of one minute in the playoffs that spring, so it’s not like he did absolutely nothing in the postseason to help out the squad; he simply did next to nothing.
3. Colin Fraser
Sicamous, BC native Colin Fraser finds his way onto the list at number three, and that’s probably because you might not even know who he is, let alone which team he won the Cup with. Of course he won with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012, playing less than 10 minutes a night on average and still sporting a minus-1 rating.
Nonetheless, Fraser was a depth player on a championship team, and I can’t take that away from him, and neither can you. Why would we want to? The guy was a hard-nosed grinder who earned his spot in the NHL against all odds, and now is the owner of a Stanley Cup ring. It’s a nice story.
2. Gary Leeman
Gary Leeman will always be famous in Toronto for becoming the second Maple Leaf to ever record at least 50 goals in a season (he scored 51 in 1990-91). That season was a bit of an anomaly for Leeman, who only once came within 20 points of the 95 he recorded that season, and he never came even close to the 50-goal mark at any other time in his career.
He’s also a little infamous in Western Canada thanks to the fact that he was the centerpiece of a trade that sent him to Calgary in exchange for Doug Gilmour. Flames fans obviously didn’t love that deal in the end, but I digress. Leeman won it all as a member of the Canadiens in 1993. He was dealt to Montreal mid-season that year in exchange for Brian Skrudland, and although he played just 11 of the 20 playoff games that season, he’s the proud owner of a Stanley Cup ring because of it.
1. Shawn Thornton
Before making this list, if someone told me Shawn Thornton was a Stanley Cup champion and asked me to guess the team he won it with, I would have guessed Boston. I would have been right, of course, but I would be wrong assuming it was his first. That’s right, Thornton’s Cup in 2011 as a member of the Bruins was in fact his second, as he won once before with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.
Thornton was a 7th round pick in 1997, so the very fact that he carved out a decent NHL career defied all odds. The fact that he has won the Stanley Cup twice—with two different teams—is borderline unbelievable. This isn’t a knock on Thornton, as he’s a useful role player (although how useful he still is at the age of 39 can be debated), and he served a purpose on both championship squads.
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