Barry Trotz does not think the Capitals’ history of playoff struggles has created a mental hurdle for the team to overcome. “I think they’re all past that now,” Trotz said to reporters at the team’s breakdown day. “I think it’s so overworked by [the media] and everybody else that it’s actually becoming a joke to the guys.” Well, the Caps weren’t laughing after their Game 7 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. In some ways, Trotz is correct. Losing to Jaroslav Halak in 2010 is not why Washington lost to Pittsburgh this year. Giving up a 3-1 series lead to the New York Rangers in 2015 is not why the Caps were shutout in Game 7 by the Penguins. But there does seem to be a mental hurdle the team has
More than four weeks have passed since the Sharks were dispatched by the Edmonton Oilers in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau appear no closer to signing contract extensions than when the season ended. Sharks general manager Doug Wilson faces some of the toughest decisions of his 14-year tenure as the head of the hockey department in the coming weeks, beginning with the two best players in franchise history. And, no, there are no back room handshake deals here between the Sharks and either of Thornton or Marleau, allowing the Sharks to protect extra players in the upcoming expansion draft. The two veterans are still pending unrestricted free agents
A lot of lingering glory stems from postseason success in the NHL, with near-Hall of Fame careers getting kicked up to enshrinement levels, while obvious superstars burnish their legacies with Conn Smythe trophies that seem to count for something extra beyond any and all hardware copped in the regular season. As a result, we often marvel all the further at the Gretzkys, Messiers, Lemieuxs, Roys, Sakics, while losing sight of amazing players who never quite reached those upper shelves of glory—at least not in terms of winning Conn Smythes—but who had inspiring runs of their own. Sittler could explode with the best of them: consider his ten-point game from the winter of 1976.