So I stirred up the hornet's nest with my post about Raymond Bourque's 'feelgood Cup win' from last night, good to see I can play instigator and not just conciliator. Some good discussion by all.
I thought my preamble indicated the high esteem I hold him in. I wish he had been a Canadien. But he wasn't, so I was okay when Dave Maley pasted him to the boards.
I also agree with the posters who say that many great players never inscribed their name on the Cup, and while that's not ideal, it's doesn't tarnish their legacy. I brought up Jean Ratelle, Gilbert Perreault and Brad Park in another post. I personally think it's more of an achievement for a player to play his entire career with the same team than to jet to contenders in the twilight of their careers. And I understand that in this age of free agency and salary caps and greedy soulless ownership (well, that's never not been the case I guess) such idealism is passé, but I still think that way.
Some say it's noble for a player to seek a competitive team to finally get a Cup, sometimes at some financial sacrifice, but I think it's just as admirable for a player to not want to leave his teammate to be a mercenary at the trade deadline. Mats Sundin, Miikka Kiprusoff and Patrice Brisebois, who preferred to stay with their team rather than go coast to a win on another team are at least as deserving of our respect.
I agree that Mr. Bourque played really well for the Avalanche in their Cup year, but it still doesn't deter me from saying that he piggybacked on an already strong group of players to win it all. He wasn't a spare as Denis Savard was, as Marc pointed out, but it's still a Cup as an honorific, a lifetime achievement award, rather than a Steve Yzerman Cup, or a John Elway Super Bowl.
Some cases are easier to digest than others. I think Jarome Iginla did everything right, in how for years he resisted the notion that he should go to another team and have a chance to win, he wanted to remain in Calgary and finish what he started. Only this season, when ownership and management asked him for permission, and with the understanding that this was a five-year rebuild job, did he relent. If he wins a Cup in Pittsburgh or somewhere else later on, I'll be happy for him. I won't pretend it's a fairy tale however.
I'll finish off with a bad example, but it's one we can bat around, and it's the case of Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter. These two guys are punchlines in the NBA now, and have been for years. One for never getting past the first round of the playoffs, for being a choke artist, who runs up points when it doesn't matter, and the other for vague injuries, and being all flash and no substance. Both these characters pouted their way out of Toronto, to oblivion and ridicule rather than the fame and championships they thought would be theirs if they went to 'major markets'. How much better perceived would they be, and how much better would their career have been if they'd stuck it out with the Raptors, if they'd worked on their game and their team, and fought for championships together? If they'd had a few playoff runs, but had never won, they'd be seen as warriors and champions for who things didn't work out, like John Stockton or Dan Marino, for example.