(Tampa, Florida) Islanders of the 1980s can rest assured: their status will not be threatened for at least two years.
Updated at 01:16
Artturi Lehkonen once again scored the winning goal and on Sunday the Colorado Avalanche won 2-1 to win the Stanley Cup final in six games. The former Nordics triumph for the third time since their departure from Quebec, following the conquests of 1996 and 2001.
And there is no need to look far for the fil rouge between these two achievements and this year’s. This link is Joe Sakic, the one that he was as much in demand as the players of him for post-match interviews.
Sakic won both Cups as the captain of Avalanche. Here he is now in the role of architect, the one who fished out the pillars of this team that became Cale Makar and Mikko Rantanen, the one who got Nazem Kadri, Devon Toews and Lehkonen.
The more nostalgic will see a link to Quebec, where the 1990s Avalanche was built.
But there is another even more direct link between the past and the present. Sakic relieved him when asked to compare the experience of winning as a player and as a GM.
“When you play, you have butterflies before the game and when it starts, you can make a difference in the game. When you’re not playing … ”
He stopped before continuing his thought. “Here, I know how Pierre felt. You have to look, that’s all you can do. ”
“Pierre” is Pierre Lacroix, the last GM of the Nordiques, appointed to this position in 1994, who died in December 2020. Lacroix has followed the team to Denver and made them a powerhouse in the NHL for years.
“I learned so much from him,” Sakic said. He gave me the opportunity, when I retired, to work here. He is a great mentor, a great person. I learned a lot from him. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Pierre. ”
Sakic has put together a whole hockey team, starting with Makar, the one he enlisted in 4And ranking in 2017. This same Makar concludes his season with the Norris Trophy (best defender) and Conn-Smythe (MVP of the playoffs).
The Avalanche earn top marks after dominating the NHL since October. In the season, the team finished at 2And rank of the general ranking, to 1uh ranking in the Western Conference, with 119 points.
In the playoffs, the team suffered only four losses and won two series per sweep. Since the NHL introduced the 4-on-7 format in 1986, only the 1987-88 Edmonton Oilers have had a better run, with just two losses. The Avalanche are the fifth team to suffer only four defeats en route to the Stanley Cup, the others being the Canadiens of 1993, the New Jersey Devils of 1995, the Detroit Red Wings of 1997 and the Los Angeles Kings of 2012.
Sakic and his management played a crucial role, but the GM realized that unlike when he played, he can no longer be the first to lift the cup!
“We were watching the festivities and the owner [Stan Kroenke] she asked me, “How do you feel waiting so long this time?” I asked him: “How long do I have to wait like this ?!” Sakic laughed.
A few minutes later, when the Amalie Arena track was slowly starting to empty and the players were returning to the locker room, Sakic, Stan Kroenke and Josh Kroenke (the owner’s son) were surrounded by cameras, with the Stanley Cup in their arms.
Texts by Stamkos
For its part, the Lightning fails in its quest for the third consecutive Stanley Cup. No team has made it since the New York Islanders, from 1980 to 1983.
It’s hard to say if it was precisely the fact that they missed this appointment with history, but Steven Stamkos and Patrick Maroon, the first two players to meet the media, have contained their emotions badly.
Maroon, who was aiming for the fourth straight Cup (he won in St. Louis in 2019), had puffy eyes.
When our injury report comes out, you’ll be amazed, he whispered. We have not given up, we are warriors. I am so proud of the guys for what we have won in three years. We had a nice trip, but we didn’t make it tonight.
Stamkos and some key members of the squad suffered defeat in the final for the second time, following that of 2015.
“It hurts just as much as it did in our first final,” he said. But it’s time to step back and realize how difficult it is to get here. Congratulations to Avalanche, they are a great team, they are the champions. ”
Stamkos, meanwhile, recalled his team’s achievements in the playoffs. “In the first round we play against one of the best players in the NHL, against the player most useful to his team. [Auston Matthews]. In the second round we face the winners of the Presidents’ Trophy [les Panthers de la Floride]. In the semifinal we play against the winner of the Vézina trophy [Igor Shesterkin] and in the final, against the winner of Norris and now Conn-Smythe. He didn’t stop. This is what makes it so hard to lose, because you realize how hard you worked to get here. ”
The defeat will be particularly bitter for Corey Perry. The former Canadian lost for the third consecutive year in the final, he who lost last year with the Habs and in 2020 with the Dallas Stars. His second Stanley Cup ring (after 2007) is yet to arrive.
Despite the pain of the moment, Perry went to cheer his teammates after the handshake.
Even Patrick Maroon, a great friend of Perry, had a thought for him, but also for the veterans who were looking for a first Cup.
“Honestly, I feel bad for Bellemare, Nash, Hagel, Elliott and Perry. We owe him one. Hope we will return here next year. ”