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The NHL season and the Stanley Cup winner that never was: 2004-05,_Crosby_and_Stanley_Cup.jpgMarc-Andre Fleury, Sidney Crosby and the Stanley Cup, 2009.

Each NHL season around trade-deadline time as hockey fans begin to think of the playoffs and the Stanley Cup, I revisit the hockey season that never was, 2004-05, the season the Stanley Cup was won by – no one. Thanks to the greed of owners and players both there was a lockout that went unresolved until the summer of 2005.  So in 2005 the Stanley Cup stayed home.

Something I wonder about concerning the season that never was is who might have won the Stanley Cup that year and what players would now have themselves a 2004-05 Stanley Cup ring to show grandchildren that do not now have one.  I also wonder which players might have earned a second or third ring, or even a fourth or a fifth, to their collection.

Stanley Cup possibilities

In the season before the lockout, the Detroit Red Wings finished with 109 points and would surely have been as strong the following season, had their been one, as they did not lose any major contributors from their line-up and had many stars in their prime, such as Nicklas Lidstrom, and the Wings still had Steve Yzerman.  If not for the lockout then Yzerman, who retired the year after the lockout with 3 Stanley Cup rings, might have a fourth.  Lidstrom?  He retired with 4 so he might now have 5.

Joe Sakic of the Colorado Avalanche might have had a third ring, his team was a contender in that era. A teammate of his in 2003-04 was Paul Kariya, who never won a Cup, so he might have retired with a ring. Patrick Elias, Scott Niedermayer and Martin Brodeur of the Devils all had multiple rings and might have another. So, too, Martin Lapointe, then with Boston, and Tim Taylor with the Lightning, teams that had a legitimate shot had there been a 2004-05 season.

Steve ‘Stumpy’ Thomas didn’t play on a Stanley Cup winning team but was with Yzerman on that strong Detroit team. When the lockout came he retired, his final chance at winning ending with the canceling of the season. Jason Wooley is another player now retired who was with the Wings at the time who lost his last opportunity to carry the Cup.

Canucks Might Have Won Stanley Cup

Another club likely to have contended that spring is one that failed in game 7 of the final in the 2010-11 season, the Vancouver Canucks. They finished on top of the Northwest Division with 102 points in 2003-04 and would have had a strong team the year following, too. If they’d won there might not have been Stanley Cup riots when they lost in 2011.

Mind you, there might have been in 2005.

That version of the Canucks had many players who’ve since retired without a Stanley Cup ring: the team’s new president, Trevor Linden, Dan Cloutier, Markus Naslund, Geoff Sanderson, Brendan Morrison, Ed Jovanovski, Martin Ruchinsky and the much-traveled Marc Bergevin. Bergevin played 1,191 regular season games without getting his name on the Cup and lost, like Steve Thomas and so many others, his last chance to win it in the lost season. That team also had a young Daniel and Henrik Sedin who are getting closer to retirement now with no Cup in sight.

Could Toronto Maple Leafs have won Cup?

The St. Louis Blues were strong at the time so were it not for the lockout Keith Tkachuk might have retired with a ring. Other players on teams that may have contended in the season that never was and who retired without a ring, include Yanic Perreault, Sami Kapanen, Jeremy Roenick, Vincent Damphousse and Manny Fernandez.

There’s also Mats Sundin, Owen Nolan and Tie Domi, long-suffering players who were on a normally woeful Toronto Maple Leafs team that managed 103 points in 2003-04 and were poised for good things the next year. Sadly, the late Wade Belak was on that club and had they won it may have changed the trajectory of his life and he might still be alive.

What if the Leafs managed to win that year? If that franchise no longer had to look back to 1967 for their last Cup would they still be the brunt of jokes? A win might have had a lasting glow and taken some sting out of their historic collapse in round one against Boston four years ago.  With Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and others the club is finally turning it around.

Non-Stanley Cup winners of 2004-05

Players since retired without ever having won a Stanley Cup in their career, like so many noted above, have more fodder to look back and wonder than so those from that era who had a ring when they hung up their skates. It’s reasonable to conclude having a ring, or more, would mitigate angst when thoughts stray to what could have been.

Non-winners of a ring can always wonder if the 2004-05 season might have been the one they won the Stanley Cup. There’s no way to know who that winning team would have been but we do know that were it not for the lockout there would be 23 more names engraved on Lord Stanley’s mug. Taking that into account makes the 2004-05 lockout seem even more of a waste.

And even more reason to celebrate this NHL season’s Stanley Cup winners.


About the Author

Marcus Hondro
Marcus Hondro

Actor, writer, father, gadfly, ‘Nucks fan.

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