It's great to be a winner in sports. It's never fun to be a loser.
But would you rather be a bad winner or a good loser?
If that doesn't make sense, take the great Marcel Dionne, who's fifth all-time in goals scored with 731. However, he never won a Stanley Cup. He's widely regarded as the best player in NHL history to never win a Stanley cup. Aaron Ward, a bottom-pairing defenceman for much of his career, was part of the Detroit Red Wings 1997-98 repeat and won it all with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2002. Still, not a GREAT player.
Some athletes want to be great and some want a championship. Most of the time, you can only pick one.
Well, the last 15 Stanley Cup winners have each featured future or current Hall of Famers, and some players that you probably forgot existed until I mentioned their names. Here is the worst player on the last 15 Stanley Cup-winning team.
15 2016 Pittsburgh Penguins: Brian Dumoulin
It's hard to find a player that disappointed on the Penguins. Mike Sullivan was able to implement a dominant four-line system that picked up the slack on nights Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin struggled. Matt Murray was a force in goal and Kris Letang played like a Nicklas Lidstrom throughout the entire postseason.
That being said, if there was one weak link on them, it was defenceman Brian Dumoulin. He scored two goals and eight points, but post a plus/minus rating of minus-three. He had just one point in the Stanley Cup Final against the San Jose Sharks, though it was a goal in the decisive Game 6.
Dumoulin wasn't necessarily under fire, however. Bottom-pairing defencemen aren't asked to put up big points or shut down the top line consistency.
14 2015 Chicago Blackhawks: Marcus Kruger
Much like the Penguins, the 2015 Blackhawks didn't have an major weaknesses. This team featured a loaded core of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Andrew Shaw, Brandon Saad, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and Corey Crawford. It was unfair how stacked their team was. But there always has to be a few names on a championship team that don't...well...do much.
Marcus Kruger was that guy for the Blackhawks. He was a decent fourth-line centre in the regular season with seven goals and 17 points, but the playoffs weren't a great experience for his overall play. Kruger scored just two goals and four points and posted a minus-five rating in the postseason, the worst on the team. Not exactly "lighting it up," or anything like that.
13 2014 Los Angeles Kings: Mike Richards
It's kind of funny how the Mike Richards trade was one of the worst in NHL history for the Los Angeles Kings, giving up prized youngsters Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds in a deal with the Philadelpha Flyers. Richards never brought his excellent two-way game that we saw in Philadelphia, and became a quick afterthought for Darryl Sutter's group.
Richards did play a pivotal role in the team's Stanley Cup championship run in 2012, but it was a different case the following year. Richards scored just three goals and 10 points during the 2014 playoffs. This former defensive guru of a forward also posted a woeful minus-six rating in the playoffs, tied for worst on the team.
12 2013 Chicago Blackhawks: Nick Leddy
Nick Leddy had plenty of promise as a top-four blueliner with the Blackhawks, but there was just no way of beating out Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Brian Campbell. Though many of you recognize Leddy today as a solid defenceman with the New York Islanders, he was easily a weakness on their 2013 championship team.
In 23 playoff games, Leddy scored no goals, had two assists, posted a horrendous minus-eight rating and averaged just 14:21 minutes on ice. For what it's worth, the closest players to Leddy's plus/minus rating were a trio of Blackhawks that had a minus-two rating. Leddy was easily a liability for the Blackhawks championship team. Then again, better to be a bad winner than a good loser, right?
11 2012 Los Angeles Kings: Colin Fraser
Colin Fraser (#32 Pictured Above) is just 31 years old and that's not exactly an age where NHL players often decide to call it a career. But yet, this man won a pair of Stanley Cups (one with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010). Joke's on us.
The 2012 Kings were a major surprise, just barely grabbing the eighth seed before eliminating the Western Conference's top-three seeds en route to a Stanley Cup championship. Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Quick, Jeff Carter, and even Mike Richards played crucial roles during the title run. But as for Colin Fraser? Ehh...
In 18 playoff games, Fraser had just one goal and one assist and posted a minus-one rating. Only two other Kings players failed to post a negative rating. In the regular season, Fraser only scored two goals and eight points in 67 games.
10 2011 Boston Bruins: Shawn Thornton
The 2011 Bruins brought back the good ol' '70s hockey style of winning games by brutalizing their opponents. Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, and Shawn Thornton dished out heavy hits, cheap shots and intimidated their opponents with the aggressive style of play.
But Shawn Thornton was also the worst player this Bruins team had. Sure, he had good size and deserves credit for being able to wear down opponents, but Boston had many of them. Thornton was a fourth liner who just dropped the gloves when it was necessary. This man played in 18 playoff games for Boston in 2011, racking up just one assist and posting a minus-one rating. Thornton averaged just 6:58 of time on ice and racked up 24 penalty minutes, which doesn't necessarily help the team.
9 2010 Chicago Blackhawks: Jordan Hendry
This 2010 Blackhawks team was probably the most dominant of the three Stanley Cup championship squads. Yes, they set records in 2013, but that was a lockout-shortened 48-game season. This Blackhawks team had the aforementioned stars, but Kris Versteeg, Dustin Byfuglien, and Andrew Ladd, who would go on to become salary cap constraint casualties.
There were not a lot of weaknesses on this Blackhawks squad, who absolutely dominated their opponents throughout the playoffs. But there was one guy specifically who didn't do much during the postseason. Jordan Hendry played 15 games and failed to score any points. He was a minus-four in the playoffs and only averaged 8:09 minutes on ice per game. Hendry is now enjoying time playing overseas in Sweden. Let's just hope he doesn't read this.
8 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins: Pascal Dupuis
WOAH...wait a minute.
How can one of Sidney Crosby's famed linemates be on this list? Nobody can forget his 25 goal and 59-point 2011-12 season or his 20 goals in a lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign with Sidney Crosby as his centre. But as hard as it may be to believe, Pacal Dupuis was a total non-factor during Pittsburgh's run to the 2009 Stanley Cup.
Dupuis played in 16 playoff games for Pittsburgh in 2009, but he didn't score a single goal. He didn't score a single assist. He was a lackluster minus-five and only managed 17 shots on goal in those 16 games.
It's safe to say Dupuis came a long way in Pittsburgh. After being a non-factor in the playoffs, not many could have thought that he would go on to great things. But who got the last laugh?
7 2008 Detroit Red Wings: Chris Chelios
A friendly reminder that this list wasn't based on what a man achieved in his career. Chris Chelios is a top-10 all-time defenceman who brought glory to the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings in his historic career. But come on, the man had no reason to play into his late '40s. He was 46-years-old when the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 2008. Think about that for a minute.
The 2007-08 Cup-winning Red Wings were one of the most dominant teams of the 2000s. They won the President's Trophy with ease and were carried by Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, and Chris Osgood. But Chelios was far from being the superstar he once was. He played in 14 playoff games and had a plus-two rating. He didn't score any points and logged just 12:54 time on ice.
Then again, he played on a Stanley Cup winner at age 46. Maybe we should give him credit where it's due.
6 2007 Anaheim Ducks: Joe DiPenta
This Stanley Cup squad was quietly one of the best ever. Besides Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, and Teemu Selanne, it's safe to assume fans will quickly overlook the depth the Ducks had. Samuel Pahlsson, Rob Niedermayer (yes, Scott's brother), and Travis Moen formed one of the greatest checking lines in hockey history.
And yeah, that Pronger and Niedermayer pairing was easily the most dominant of the 2000s. But when it comes to the defencemen after them, it wasn't the greatest. Joe DiPenta wasn't a name that scared opposing forwards when he was on the ice.
I wanted to put Shawn Thornton on this list again, but once is mean enough. DiPenta played in 16 playoff games and didn't score a single point. He had just three shots on goal and played an average of 8:12 a game.
5 2006 Carolina Hurricanes: Martin Gerber
Now this was an easy choice. And for once, we aren't going for one of the team's bottom-six forwards or bottom-pairing defencemen. Martin Gerber was horrendous in the playoffs for Carolina and nearly cost them a chance at the Stanley Cup. He was named the starter for the 2006 playoffs and allowed nine goals in two games played.
Cam Ward took over for him in Game 2 of the opening round against the seventh-seeded Montreal Canadiens. The rookie rallied the Hurricanes to four-straight wins to close out the series before winning the Stanley Cup against the Edmonton Oilers.
In total, Gerber had a horrendous .856 save percentage and allowed 13 goals on 90 shots faced in six games of action. Carolina went 2-4 in those games. Given how heroic Ward was in the playoffs, it's safe to say Gerber was what nearly held Carolina from its first championship.
4 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning: Dmitry Afanasenkov
The 2003-04 Lightning were certainly not a trendy pick to win the Stanley Cup at the start of the season. But little-known stars Martin St. Louis and Brad Richards formed a dangerous scoring machine with Vincent Lecavalier. Dan Boyle led the backend while Nikolai Khabibulin had a Vezina-caliber season. But with all due respect to Dmitry Afanasenkov, he definitely didn't contribute all that much in the postseason.
He had just six goals and 10 assists with the Lightning in the regular season with a minus-four rating. In the playoffs, he played 23 games and had just one goal and two assists. His minus-three rating was second worst on the team. He also didn't have any points in the final three series, so it's safe to say he didn't do his job when it mattered most.
3 2003 New Jersey Devils: Oleg Tverdovsky
Now, everyone knows just how stacked the Devils were in 2003. They only had Hall of Fame defencemen Scott Niedermayer and Scott Stevens. They also had the winningest goaltender of all-time in Martin Brodeur, plus scoring talents Scott Gomez, Jamie Langenbrunner, Brian Gionta, and others. But if there was someone that didn't exactly help out along the way, it would have to be Oleg Tverdovsky.
He had just five goals and 13 points in the regular season with a plus-three rating. In the playoffs, Tverdovsky didn't score any goals and had just three assists. He had a porous minus-four rating and struggled to be a regular in the lineup. Tverdovsky wasn't able to bring much offence and his play in the New Jersey zone wasn't very good. Perhaps benching him in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final was the reason they won?
2 2002 Detroit Red Wings: Uwe Krupp
The good news for Uwe Krupp is that it was his overtime goal in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Florida Panthers that gave the Colorado Avalanche their first-ever Stanley Cup. For that, he is forever remembered in hockey lore. The other good news is that he won a Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2002. A pair of Stanley Cups for the six-foot-six defenceman out of Germany. But the bad news? Well, he's not going to be remembered as much of a force when Detroit won it all in 2002.
Krupp only played two games in the playoffs and yet was a minus-five in those games. He played in just 36 regular season games and posted a minus-one rating on the President's Trophy-winning team that went on to win the Stanley Cup.
1 2001 Colorado Avalanche: Bryan Muir
This was easily one of the most star-studded NHL teams ever. You had the greatest goalie ever in Patrick Roy, star defenceman Rob Blake, the NHL's all-time points leader in Ray Bourque and Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Milan Hejduk up front as scorers. Oh, and Chris Drury and Alex Tanguay were good players themselves!
But nobody is perfect, and neither was this Avalanche team. Defenceman Bryan Muir played in eight regular season games without registering a point, though he was able to post a plus-four rating. He failed to do much in the playoffs, suiting up for three games and failing to make the scoresheet.
Again, Muir gets the last laugh since he was on the Stanley Cup winners anyway. But it's safe to say the guy didn't have much of an impact either way.
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