Come Monday, the best postseason in all of sports is set to start.
It’s time for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The annual event that comes every Spring features the greatest hockey players in the world competing for what is arguably the most unique and historic trophy in all of sports; the Stanley Cup.
131 years old, the Cup has looked a lot different across the centuries it’s been around for. Once just the bowl that now sits at the top of the near 3-feet tall trophy, the Cup features rings containing 13 teams and all of its players, coaches, and team staff that won in that season, respectively.
For players, having their name engraved on the Stanley Cup is the only thing that matters. The most legendary of all NHL players have had their names etched onto Lord Stanley’s hardware. Bobby Orr. Wayne Gretzky. Gordie Howe. Mario Lemieux. All of these players will forever have their names inscribed onto a ring of the Cup until the end of time. And every season, teams keep their heads down and grind out a long season just to forget about the 82 games played before and focus on winning the 16 games against four different hockey clubs ahead of them to fulfill the dream of every hockey player and coach: lift the Stanley Cup.
While hockey players have a knack for being reserved and try not to draw attention to themselves when it comes to media spotlight and whatnot during the regular season, all of that is thrown out the window when the buzzer sounds and they win the Cup. Players can be seen crying, cursing, and even so excited they dent it, and every emotion that has been built up for decades pours out onto the ice and the celebrations that go long into the night and the parade throughout their organization’s city to come.
What makes the Cup so special as well is that every player and coach gets an individual day with it. For one day between the end of the playoffs and the beginning of the pre-season, anyone gets one day to do whatever they would like with the cup. In the past, it’s been taken to hometowns, nightclubs, and even been fed to horses at the Meadowlands Racetrack.
The energy and emotion that each player has toward lifting the Cup can be seen in flares during every playoff game, too. Opponents get bitter and chirp at each other after seemingly every whistle. Scrums ensue if a player even skates too close to a goaltender. And the goals themself show a glimpse of how a skater feels towards inching closer and closer to being able to lift the Stanley Cup.
Like every year, this year features storylines for every hockey club. Some examples include:
Do the Boston Bruins complete the historic season of winning the most games in the regular season with a Cup alongside the same year?
Will the New York Rangers’ strategy of loading up on stars Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane at the trade deadline pay off?
Does Connor McDavid’s legacy as the greatest hockey player not named Wayne Gretzky become cemented with a Cup coming to Edmonton alongside Leon Draisitl and Co.?
Can the Toronto Maple Leafs finally get over the hump of six-straight first-round exits and make a deep run with their core-four of Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews, John Tavares, and William Nylander?
And will Jack Eichel step up to the plate and not disappoint in what’s finally his first postseason appearance with the Vegas Golden Knights?
Only one team’s storyline will turn into an engraving on the Stanley Cup, and the other 15 will go down as “what-if’s.”