They call the Stanley Cup the hardest trophy to win in sports for a reason.
From the four grueling best-of-seven matchups to the intense level of exertion and competition, a lot goes into building a winner. Everything from teamwork to talent is required to edge out the competition to hoist Lord Stanley himself.
Building A Stanley Cup Contender
Clark Gillies and Bobby Nystrom know this firsthand. As four-time winners of the Stanley Cup with the New York Islanders, Gillies and Nystrom have experienced what it takes to build a Stanley Cup contender. The duo were integral pieces of the Islanders’ storied runs in the 1980s. Their bond — and the bond of their team as a whole — helped to propel them into history four times in a row.
When asked about what makes a Cup-winning roster different from the rest, Gillies had this to say:
“I’ve always said the key ingredient is that we had 20 guys and they all had a job to do…if we all did our job and worked as hard as we possibly could, we were basically impossible to beat for a long, long time.” – Clark Gillies
Star Players & Coaching Considerations
Star players and talent can get you to the playoffs, but teamwork is what sets a roster up for long-term success. A good example of this is apparent with the President’s Trophy-winning Colorado Avalanche. The team is composed of talented players that lean into their strengths. Nathan MacKinnon doesn’t need to carry his team; he has a whole roster of teammates to help fill in night in and night out. Betway currently has the Colorado Avalanche at +2.35 odds to win the Stanley Cup. The confidence every player has in one another is something that sets them apart from the competition.
Coaching is also a key ingredient in Cup-winning rosters. Islanders head coach Al Arbour was known for galvanizing his teams by getting to know each and every player on his roster.
“I’ve always said that one of our biggest assets was that [Arbour] knew each and every guy on that team. He knew exactly what buttons to push.” – Clark Gillies
Dealing with Adversity
For young teams inexperienced in the playoffs, losing can feel deflating. The Toronto Maple Leafs have yet to make it out of the first round in the last four years of making the playoffs — a reality fans know too well. The NHL picks at Betway insider suggests that finishing power is one of the most important things in building a winning roster. Without it, teams can fall short of expectations and lose out early, like Toronto has for so many years. Bobby Nystrom, however, believes that losing can help to build a long-term winner.
“Once you experience what you go through in all of those series, all of a sudden you’re not shaking. Al would always say: “Don’t be afraid to lose, the sun will come up in the morning.” – Bobby Nystrom
The Brotherhood of A Stanley Cup Contender
At the end of the day, it all comes down to the bond shared by the coach and his teammates. The brotherhood shared in a locker room goes a long way. Knowing every teammate has the others’ backs can make or break a playoff series.
“I don’t care if you go to dinner, go to lunch, or if you ever see each other off the ice. You come through that dressing room door, you better be willing to go through a wall for each other.” – Al Arbour
Ultimately, it appears three factors are key in building a winner: talent, teamwork, and the ability to rally against adversity.
Post contributed by Jacob Rivard.