Great players are judged on their ability to play the game, the greatest players are judged on their ability to win them. The wins that count the most are in the postseason and the single win that separates the greats from the legends is the deciding game for the Stanely Cup.
There's so many different ways we can try to express the players' desire for the Cup. The postgame speeches after winning one are always lavished with terms like, "unbelievable," "incredible," and "overwhelming." Some of the most memorable interviews are with aging elite players who grasp Stanley in their last ditch efforts before retirement. Ray Bourque, Dave Andreychuk, and Teemu Selanne all experienced this moment and finally etched their names in history as champions.
Some never see that day and they're left with the same battle scars, tallies and stories as any NHLer would have, but their names will eventually fade from history. Sometimes a player is stuck on a bad team, or simply running out of time, but between teammates and old age not every talented player will get a shot at immortality.
A lot of the players listed here are in their 30s and on teams that can't seem to get over the hump. This means, barring exceptional circumstances, a number of these players will remain cup-less in their retirement, unless they change team. It's time to look at the top NHL players who are in danger of never winning a Stanley Cup, and why.
Here are the Top 16 NHL Players Who May Need To Change Teams To Win A Stanley Cup.
16 Zach Parise
15 Jarome Iginla
Remember Marcel Dionne? If you do, you either watched him play or you've come to learn that he's one of the greatest players to never win the Cup. Jarome Iginla is our generation's Marcel Dionne, with a few less points. Iginla spent most of his career in Calgary where he came painfully close to winning the Cup in 2004. That's the closest he's been despite making a decent run with Pittsburgh and Boston in back to back seasons before landing in Colorado, where the Avalanche have been struggling to make the postseason.
14 David Backes
Backes has been leading the Blues since 2011 and while the team has greatly improved overall, they're still struggling in the postseason. This year looks like the most promising for Backes and the St. Louis organization, but they're still far from being the favorites to take home Lord Stanley. Backes at 32, still has some hockey in him, but if the Blues' captain is going to stick it out with the club he'll have to hope their postseason troubles are put behind them.
13 Ryan Kesler
12 Shea Weber
Shea Weber is one of the best defencemen in the NHL. He's grown into Nashville's franchise player and has the contract to prove it. He'll likely play with the Predators for the entirety of his career and with Nashville's reputation in the playoffs, Weber is certainly in danger of never winning a cup. Nashville has yet to compete in a conference final in their 18 years of existence (that made me feel old too). This year is their best chance at doing so and the optimist in me is thinking they might take it all the way-- if they can get there.
11 Mike Ribeiro
10 Jason Spezza
At one time in his career, Jason Spezza was considered to be the future of the Ottawa Senators. After Daniel Alfredsson retired in 2013, Spezza was given the 'C' but quickly requested a trade at the end of the season. The Senators moved their captain to Dallas, where Spezza has found a comfortable supporting role behind stars Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.
9 Patrick Marleau
Patrick Marleau is the face of the San Jose Sharks, faithful and the team's undisputed leader. He's played 18 seasons with the club and holds most of the Sharks franchise records. At 36, and heading into the what's likely the final few seasons of his career, Marleau has yet to bring the Cup home to San Jose.
8 Pekka Rinne
Considered one of the elite netminders in the NHL, Pekka Rinne is a lot of things, but not a Stanely Cup champion. Rinne is a 3-time Vezina finalist and holds the Predators record for most consecutive wins (11). At 33, Rinne has already battled a hip injury and infection (2013), and despite rebounding with a very impressive 2014-15 season, Pekka has a looked much more human this season with signs of slowing down.
7 Jason Pominville
A Cinderella story, Pominville was drafted in 2001 by the Buffalo Sabres and played five seasons with their AHL affiliate before being waived by the team at the start of the 2005-06 campaign. He cleared waivers and played 57 games with the Sabres tallying 30 points. He followed it up with 68 the following season, eventually becoming Buffalo's 16th captain in 2011.
6 Rick Nash
Nash moved from Columbus to win a Stanley Cup. The trade to New York put Nash in a great position to do so, and in 2014 he helped the Rangers reach a final showdown with the Los Angeles Kings, but they lost in five games.
5 The Sedin Twins
The Sedins are 35, and while their production hasn't dwindled much in the last few years it's hard to imagine they'll be playing for much longer. Drafted in 1999, back to back by the Vancouver Canucks, the Sedins have remained loyal and will likely end their careers with the organization. They've been a cornerstone for the Canucks through their 16-year tenure but despite only missing the playoffs four times, the twins haven't mustered more than a single swipe at the Cup, which came in 2011.
4 Carey Price
3 Joe Thornton
2 Alex Ovechkin
1 Henrik Lundqvist
King Henrik is a great goaltender playing behind a great hockey team in the New York Rangers. He's enjoyed a successful career with the Rangers and has posted elite numbers consistently over the last decade, solidifying himself as prominent, franchise goaltender. The Rangers have come close a handful of times but could never seal the deal and time's running out on Henrik.
Lundqvist turned 34 this year and we can't picture the King playing for much longer, as tough as it would be for him to retire without the ultimate award.
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