There’s an argument made that if a player, especially a superduperstar player, retires without having won a championship during their playing career then any career accomplishments, no matter how grand, are for not.
Doesn’t matter the sport or the player. Look at how many passing records Dan Marino holds. Yet people will argue that none of those matter because he retired without a Super Bowl ring. He’d probably trade all those accomplishments in for just one Super Bowl ring. If he didn’t then we’d question his heart and dedication.
There’s only one thing every athlete strives for during their career. To win. They want to win. Be it basketball, hockey, soccer, tennis, or football. You play to win.
It doesn’t matter how good you are or what records you break. If you don’t win a championship at the end of the year then nothing else matters.
You don’t have to win a championship every year but you have to win at least one in your career. Great players win. That’s what their known for.
They’ve all won at least one Stanley Cup.
If they hadn’t people might not consider them to be some of the greatest players of all time. No matter how excellent they were.
There’s a difference between padding the stat sheet and taking home a championship. Some players can handle the role of leader and take their teammates on a gruelling ride through four tough playoff rounds during the Stanley Cup playoffs. Others can’t.
Now that the NHL playoffs are just around the corner those whispers of, “he can’t lead his team to the Cup” or, “without a Cup he’s not really that great”, begin.
There’s this stigma attached to great players that they just aren’t clutch enough to win a Stanley Cup. Can we really define clutchness though? Is there a stat for that?
Who knows? But that doesn’t stop fans, critics, reporters and analysts from saying a player’s not clutch enough or that they need a Stanley Cup ring to validate their career before they retire.
One such player talked about in such conversations when it comes to the Vancouver Canucks is Roberto Luongo.
There’s no question that Luongo is the heart and soul of the Canucks team and that when he retires he’ll go down as one of the greatest Canucks of all time. He’s had a brilliant career so far but one that’s only full of regular season accomplishments.
You need strong goaltending to bring you to the Stanley Cup finals. A lot of past Stanley Cup winners haven’t even had to have a great goalie in net. Just one that gets hot at the right time. It doesn’t hurt to have one of the best goalies in the NHL today on your team though, even if that hasn’t translated to post-season success for Luongo and the Canucks.
Since Luongo joined the Canucks they have not made it past the second round in the years the team has reached the post-season with Luongo. Is that Luongo’s fault? Not entirely. There’s more than player on the ice. Yet that doesn’t stop people from putting the blame on his shoulders.
That’s what happens when you’re one of the best of the best. You take the good with the bad.
After a season in which Luongo helped backstop the Canucks to the best record in the NHL anything short of a Stanley Cup victory will be less than satisfactory for fans. Luongo will play a large part in whether that happens or not.
Even if he doesn’t win the Stanley Cup this year or ever in his career does that make him any less great?