Winning the Stanley Cup is a dream for millions of youth hockey players, and ends up remaining a fantasy for most.
Winning it twice is an incredible achievement. Moving beyond twice is when the really exclusive clubs start to come
into play, and that is the opportunity at hand for many of the core members of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Seven Blackhawks (Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and
Niklas Hjalmarsson) are four wins from having their names engraved on the Cup for a third time.
Their quest begins Wednesday with Game 1 of
the 2015 Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa
Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena (8 p.m. ET; NBC,
CBC, TVA Sports).
"I definitely feel lucky to be with this great
group of guys and again on the dance floor
competing for the Stanley Cup," Hossa said.
"It's a special moment, even if this is my fifth
time in the Finals. I've won two Cups, but every
time you get here it is exciting. It is something
new with new teammates and it is amazing to
be here again."
In the 121 years since the Stanley Cup was
first awarded, 238 players have had their
names engraved on the silver trophy three or
more times. Most of those players came before
the 1990s, before an age of parity that does
not allow for the dynasties that used to rule the
Since the Edmonton Oilers last won the Cup, in
1990, ending a run of five titles in seven
seasons, 24 players have had their name
engraved on it three or more times. That
means about 10 percent of the players with
three or more titles have done so in a time span that is about 20 percent of the life of the
There is one active NHL player with his name
on the Cup three times, and that is Justin
Williams, who won it in 2006 with the Carolina
Hurricanes and in 2012 and 2014 with the Los
That group of 24 would grow by 29 percent if
Chicago can defeat Tampa Bay and secure a
third championship in six seasons.
"It would be special," Kane said. "You have that
opportunity in front of you, right, and you want
to take advantage of it. These are moments you don't want to let slip away and look back on and say you wish you'd
done this or that. It is a great opportunity.
"The thing that I like about our team is we've learned from our mistakes in the past. We were in this situation last
year in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final, and you come back a year later and take advantage of that
opportunity. We realize the magnitude here. We realize you don't get this opportunity every year or every couple
years even. We need to take advantage of it."
The 24 players who have won the Cup three or more times in the past 24 seasons is dominated by the Detroit Red
Wings and New Jersey Devils. Those are the only two teams with three championships (Detroit has four) since the
start of the 1990-91 season.
Four players won three times with the Devils, and nine won three or four times with the Red Wings.
Parity has ruled in
the NHL since the end of the Oilers dynasty. No team has won the Cup three times in a row in either of the past two
decades, and none has repeated as champion since the Red Wings did in 1997 and 1998.
The Blackhawks do not want to talk about the idea of a dynasty on the eve of the Stanley Cup Final. Calling this group
one is debatable and needs the "modern" tag in front of the word anyway.
Still, what the Blackhawks have accomplished five appearances in the Western Conference Final and three trips to
the Cup Final in seven seasons while keeping so many pivotal players together is incredible.
"It's not easy to do that. When we set out years ago, we wanted to be a team that continually had a chance to win the
Cup," Chicago general manager Stan Bowman said. "So every year that's our goal. There's a lot of factors that go
into it. Ultimately it's the players. They're the ones that get on the ice.
"The job our coaching staff has done has been outstanding to prepare these guys and to make the adjustments.
We've had a lot of continuity in our organization, which I think helps. If you look back at the organizations that have
been able to sustain success, they have stability from the top, with [owner] Rocky [Wirtz] and [president] John
McDonough, all our staff, our scouting staff, the development group we have they all play a part in this."
While the Blackhawks stand four victories from the precipice of more history, the future is less clear than usual. There
are potential salarycap constraints, and this core group of seven may end up being six, or even five, by next season.
It could also be seven, depending on how creative Bowman can get. There are others, particularly Brandon Saad and
Teuvo Teravainen, who are squeezing their way into the longterm plans in Chicago.
The future might be fuzzy, but the present is quite clear: These Blackhawks have a chance to do something rare and
remarkable in the next couple of weeks.
"There's a lot of talk about [changes coming] all the time, but we've been through this before," Bowman said. "It's a
challenge. The salary cap, it's a system we all play under. We've been through it before.