We all love watching them; NHL veterans skating down the ice, wind flying through their grey-speckled beards, utilizing their wisdom to create spectacular plays. The players who have played in the league since before the turn of the millennium and sometimes before rookies entering the league were even born. As fun as it is for the fans to enjoy older players continuing to thrive in an ever-younger league, for some of these battle-tested players, dedicating their entire life to their craft without achieving the ultimate prize – the Stanley Cup – must become a burden at some point.
Only 1,134 players have ever been able to etch their name onto the Stanley Cup in the trophy’s 123 year existence. To put that into perspective, there have been 5, 649 players to lace up their skates in the NHL. Roughly, that equates to a mere 20% of players to ever play in the league being able to hoist the Stanley Cup. It appears that the odds are stacked against NHL players, let alone the aging veterans of the league. Still, it’s nice to imagine the elation and pure joy on the wrinkled face of a veteran who is lifting the Cup for the first time in his career. With the visiting locker room of the SAP Center in San Jose still soaked in champagne, now is as good a time as ever to take a look at 15 current NHL veterans who have yet to add a Stanley Cup to their lengthy résumés.
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15 Craig Anderson (35)
Entering the league in 2002-2003 with the Chicago Blackhawks, Craig Anderson has gone on to play for four separate teams over his career, including the Florida Panthers, Colorado Avalanche, and now currently for the Ottawa Senators. During his 13 year career, Anderson has, and continues, to record solid numbers. He has played in 466 regular season games, winning 213 of those, all while compiling a career 2.73 GAA, a .915 save percentage, and 33 shutouts. He also holds a Senator’s franchise record for the best save percentage in a season (.941 in 2012-2013). In the postseason, Anderson has tallied 12 wins in 27 appearances. At 35 years old, Anderson has several good years left, but his chances of winning the Stanley Cup do not appear to be great while playing for Ottawa. The Senators have missed the playoffs in two of the last three seasons and are but a good team in an Eastern Conference that boasts a number of great teams such as Pittsburgh, Washington, and Tampa Bay.
14 Vernon Fiddler (36)
This depth forward has enjoyed a successful career in which he has suited up for three different teams – Nashville, Phoenix, and Dallas. After grinding it out as an AHL call-up for the first few years of his professional career, Fiddler found a permanent home with the Nashville Predators and never looked back. Over the span of 13 seasons, Fiddler has been a role player for many of his 818 games, but has tallied a respectable 257 regular season points. He has also appeared in 42 playoff games but has yet to sip the sweet taste of champagne from Lord Stanley’s mug. Much like Jason Chimera, Fiddler has one of the more likely chances of winning the Cup compared to the other veterans on this list. His current team, the Dallas Stars, were the class of the Western Conference and look poised to make a few more runs at the Cup in the years to come.
13 Jason Chimera (37)
After the hype surrounding the Mayan calendar and their predictions about Y2K were proven to be bogus, the world continued on as normal, which included the start of the 2000-2001 NHL season. It just so happens that the turn of the millennium was also the same year that Jason Chimera skated in his first NHL game. Since then, Chimera has played in 951 games, amassing 369 points and 815 PIM over his 16 year career. He has appeared in the postseason in eight separate occasions for three different teams, totaling 29 points in 69 playoff games. At 37 years of age, Chimera isn’t getting any younger and time is running out for him to win the Stanley Cup. However, the speedy forward may have the best chance of anyone featured on this list to accomplish that goal, as the Capitals were the league’s best team this past season before they were eliminated in the second round by the eventual champions from Pittsburgh.
12 Mike Ribeiro (36)
This traveled veteran has been a member of five teams over his 16 year career, first cracking the league in 1999 with the Montreal Canadiens. Aside from Montreal, Ribeiro has worn the jerseys of the Dallas Stars, Washington Capitals, Phoenix Coyotes, and currently for the Nashville Predators. Ribeiro’s career numbers are impressive; in 1,028 games he has recorded 768 points, including a whopping 272 of those coming on the power play. He has added 34 points during 67 appearances in the postseason. The small, chippy forward has always produced on the ice but it is his off-ice antics that have earned him a reputation around the league, and a contract buyout from Phoenix where he apparently could never establish a professional relationship with management or teammates. Before Ribeiro’s career is all said and done, one can assume that he desperately wants to win a Stanley Cup, a feat which would certainly overshadow his negative reputation.
11 Mike Fisher (36)
You might think that country singing star Carrie Underwood would be the only trophy that Mike Fisher could ever want. However, for a player who has played in over 1,000 regular season games (1,016) across 17 different seasons, there is probably nothing that Fisher wants more than the Stanley Cup. Moreover, Fisher’s 114 career playoff games have given him ample opportunity to experience just how difficult it is to win the Cup, let alone reach the finals. Although many of Fisher’s earlier playoff runs with Ottawa were stymied by the Toronto Maple Leafs, he did reach one Stanley Cup Final in 2007 eventually losing to the Anaheim Ducks in 5 games. Having been that close to championship glory, it is safe to bet that Fisher appreciates the effort involved in reaching that plateau. In the twilight of Fisher’s career, we will see if the 36 year old can utilize that appreciation in the quest to win his first Stanley Cup.
10 Stéphane Robidas (39)
As one of the oldest players on this list and, considering it is a list of veterans without a Stanley Cup, you may be wondering why Stéphane Robidas decided to sign for three years with the Toronto Maple Leafs. There really doesn’t appear to be an answer other than they were one of the only teams willing to sign the aging defenseman. That, or Robidas is just a big Drake fan. Whatever the case may be, the chances for Robidas to win a Cup are dwindling – fast. For a guy who has been in the NHL since 1999 and who has played nearly 1,000 games (937), it must be frustrating that he has never been able to hoist the legendary trophy. With only one year left on his current contract, it is highly unlikely that the Maple Leafs will deliver Robidas to the Promised Land (unless of course Auston Matthews is the Leafs’ savior). The only scenario where Robidas can win a Cup is if the Leafs decide to deal him next year to a contender in need of defensive depth.
9 Shawn Horcoff (37)
It was a disappointing 2015-2016 campaign for Horcoff and the Anaheim Ducks who, after a sluggish start to the year, turned out to be one of the elite teams in the Western Conference only to lose in the first round. Horcoff has played 15 NHL seasons for 3 separate teams since 2000: the Edmonton Oilers, Dallas Stars, and Anaheim Ducks. In those 15 years, Horcoff has posted 511 points in 1,008 career regular season games. Aside from Edmonton’s magical playoff run in 2006, Horcoff has never made it out of the first round with any team, but has tallied an impressive 30 points and a +10 rating in 46 playoff games. For a veteran who has played for so long, Horcoff does not have a plethora of playoff experience. However, if he is to re-sign in Dallas – Horcoff is an unrestricted free agent this summer – playing alongside Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Patrick Sharp, and Jason Spezza may be the cure for Horcoff’s Stanley Cup blues.
8 Olli Jokinen (37)
The last few years for Olli Jokinen have been, well, discouraging for the Finnish forward. Not only has his hair grown into what can only be called an overused janitor’s mop, the veteran was dealt from Nashville, a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the very furthest thing from a contender. If Jokinen’s ultimate goal is in fact to win a championship before he calls it quits, the last several years have definitely been disheartening. Playing for the Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets, and Maple Leafs were not enough to propel Jokinen to the Stanley Cup finals. However, the 37 year old – who was picked 3rd overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, behind only Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau – heads into the summer as an unrestricted free agent and will most certainly find a home on another team. Whether or not that team will be good enough to give Jokinen a chance to etch his name on the Cup is yet to be seen.
7 Dainius Zubrus (38)
This NHL journeyman started playing in the league in 1996 and has since called six different teams home. In a career that has evolved over the course of twenty years, Zubrus has certainly played a lot of hockey. In the regular season, he has played 1,293 games, while in the postseason he has added 106. Zubrus’ point production has never been extraordinary, yet he has managed to solidify himself as an elite role player, adding invaluable depth to every team he has played for. This season, Zubrus came very close to winning his first Stanley Cup with San Jose but ultimately lost to Pittsburgh in game 6 of the Finals. After only signing for 1 year with the Sharks, Zubrus enters this off-season as an unrestricted free agent and it will be interesting to see if he resigns in San Jose or if another potential contender will take a chance on the seasoned veteran.
6 Andrei Markov (37)
Markov has spent the entirety of his professional playing career with the Montreal Canadiens, establishing himself as one of the cornerstones on the Habs’ blueline. Although he plays defense, Markov has put up incredible statistics, posting 536 career points in 928 regular season games, all while racking up a +46 rating on the defensive end. Since entering the league with the Canadiens in 2001-2002, Montreal has never put together any considerable playoff run managing just once to escape the 2nd round. The Russian D-man plays on one of the most storied franchises in NHL history with a long reputation of winning but has yet to add his name to the list of Canadiens to hoist the Stanley Cup. If Markov retires in several years without being able to contribute to a Montreal Cup victory, it will most certainly go down as one of the best defensive careers in the NHL missing a Stanley Cup. On the bright side for Montreal fans, Markov’s chances are relatively good, as he plays alongside one of, if not the, best goalie in the world.
5 Marek Zidlicky (39)
At nearly 40 years old, Zidlicky is one of the oldest veterans in the league and has seen ice-time in a number of cities, including Minnesota and New Jersey where he spent the majority of his career. As a defenceman, Zidlicky has put up very respectable numbers with 89 goals, 328 assists for 417 points in 836 regular season games. The statistics are less impressive over his playoff appearances – 1G, 15A, 16P in 49GP – however Zidlicky was a key player in the Devils’ Cinderella story in the 2012 playoffs. If Zidlicky is going to win a Cup before he retires, he’s going to need his current team, the New York Islanders, to have a strong season next year. It really would be a shame if Zidlicky, who has one of the most fun names to say in the NHL, didn’t get a chance to engrave that name on the Stanley Cup.
4 Roberto Luongo (37)
Roberto Luongo, or ‘Strombone’ as he is fondly known on Twitter, was taken by the New York Islanders 4th overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, just behind forwards Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Olli Jokinen. That is quite a high selection for a goalie – a position that is usually reserved for later picks – but Luongo has certainly lived up to the hype. The two-time Olympic gold medalist was so invaluable and so revered by teammates, that Vancouver named the goalie team captain from 2008-2010, a move almost unheard of in the modern NHL. Luongo has 401 wins, 68 shutouts, a 2.50 save percentage, and a .919 GAA in a total of 864 regular season games. Additionally, he posted 32 wins in 64 playoff appearances, and got closer than anyone on this list to winning the Stanley Cup when he lost in game 7 to the Boston Bruins in 2011. Considering Luongo’s age, if he goes his entire career without winning a Cup, he may in fact join in the next time a fan base decides to riot – a move he learned during his tenure in Vancouver.
3 Patrick Marleau (36)
Much like current teammate Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau was born in the 1970’s and has gone on to enjoy a very lengthy and successful career. A career defined by many accolades and statistics, yet one that is missing the most important award an NHL player could win: a Stanley Cup. Although Marleau has played nearly 1,500 professional games – 1,411 to be exact – he has done it all with the San Jose Sharks, the team who drafted him as a teenager. 1,036 regular season points, which include an impressive 92 game-winning goals, and 116 career playoff points certainly sounds like the statistics of a Hall of Famer. On top of that, Marleau has played in all 82 regular season games a total of eight times, and has never missed more than eight games in a season in his entire career. Like another player on this list, Marleau has dedicated his whole life to one city and one team, but has come up empty handed when it matters most.
2 Shane Doan (39)
Shane Doan is not only a workhorse, but a loyal one at that. He has been with the same organization for so long that he has seen it travel from Winnipeg, Canada all the way to Phoenix, Arizona. Not only was he a part of the transition from the Jets to the Coyotes, he has remained loyal to a franchise that has experienced so many ownership issues they single-handedly must employ several fortune tellers at once. The career of Doan, which has spanned over 20 years, is older than Connor McDavid – the career of Doan – which means he started scoring goals in the NHL before McDavid was even born. You might expect that a man who has dedicated two decades to his craft would have been rewarded in full by now, yet it may ultimately be Doan’s loyalty which has prevented him from leaving Arizona to pursue a Cup with a true contender.
1 Joe Thornton (36)
Born in the 70s. OHL All-Rookie. OHL rookie of the year. CHL rookie of the year. Drafted 1st overall by the Boston Bruins in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. Art Ross Trophy. Hart Memorial Trophy. 6-time NHL all-star. World Junior Championship gold medal. Olympic gold medal. Quite clearly, Joe Thornton has had an illustrious career in which he has achieved accolades most players can only ever dream of. There is no doubt that Thornton’s 19 years in the league –a total of 964 assists and 1,341 points in 1,367 regular season games, and 121 points in 156 playoff games – is worthy of the Hall of Fame. However, an examination of his list of achievements exposes one glaring empty spot in his trophy cabinet: the Stanley Cup. This past season, the San Jose Sharks were eliminated in game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals by the Pittsburgh Penguins and the emotion in Thornton’s eyes was very clear. After such an amazing career, there may not be a player in the league more deserving of a Cup than ‘Jumbo Joe’ and probably no one that would be as awesome to watch hoist the Cup more than Thornton. Let’s hope that the 36 year old can make another run because, let’s be honest, who isn’t a fan of that incredible beard?
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