The Chicago Blackhawks opened a new decade by ending a 49-year Cup drought and restoring heaps of excitement to a city that had almost given up on hockey.
Some cynical – OK, really cynical – people will tell you anybody who’s on the verge of a 30th birthday could use a little excitement of their own to ease the pain of hitting what just might be life’s first truly unwanted age milestone.
Personally, I’ve always embraced the Hallmark adage that the older you are, the older old is.
Nevertheless – in what’s become a bit of a summer tradition in this space – we present a six-pack of prominent NHLers who will have hit the big 3-0 the next time the Stanley Cup is presented, all of whom are still in search of their first championship.
To be clear, the names below include guys who will reach the triple decade benchmark between now and next June and men who’ve crept closer to middle age by turning 30 in the summer days since Chicago claimed the Cup on June 9.
The entire Vancouver Canucks top line
I just realized no quick-witted keyboard clicker has come up with a moniker for the Canucks’ No. 1 trio of the Sedins and Alex Burrows – or at least none that immediately spring to mind. Maybe that’s because nobody can think of anything PG to say about Burrows.
Either way, Daniel and Henrik no doubt have some creepy twin celebration planned for Sept. 26, when they’ll celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first time Daniel mentally called for a pass from Henrik. Burrows turns 30 next April. Can the three of them finally help Vancouver claim a Cup in the team’s 40th NHL season?
Captain USA and Buffalo’s Mr. Everything is a bit of a renaissance man, so he probably took turning 30 in stride when it happened back on July 17. Like Vancouver, Buffalo has yet to win a Cup since beginning NHL play in the 1970-71 season. If that’s to change, Miller will have to be even better than he was last year when he was named the league’s top ‘tender.
If things don’t change in Heatley’s career, he could end up with the nickname ‘Mr. President’…that is, always on teams that dominate the Presidents’ Trophy derby, but never win the real prize. Leaving the Senators usually only increases your chances for a Cup, but landing in Ottawa West means Heatley – along with his Sharks teammates – have a big hump to get over before legitimizing themselves in the black-and-white view of sports observers. Heatley will find out if his 30s bring better luck in January.
It’s now possible to play six seasons with the New Jersey Devils and not get yourself a ring. Martin’s chances of getting that elusive championship got a shot in the arm when he signed on to play with Sid and Co. in Steeltown this summer. As an efficient puckmover who turns 30 next March, Martin’s still got a lot of tread on the tires.
Has any No. 2 overall pick had a more bland career? Keep in mind we used the word ‘bland,’ not ‘bust.’ Legwand was chosen second behind Vincent Lecavalier in 1998 and while Vinny reached the top of the mountain in 2004, Legwand and the Preds have yet to win a playoff series. He turns 30 Aug. 17 with no shortage of big accomplishments to wish for.
When Chicago chose to sign Marian Hossa last summer, Havlat was the odd man out. Hossa lost out on the Cup as a 29- and 30-year-old, but finally struck gold at the ripe old age of 31. Will Havlat’s Wild even be in the playoffs when he rounds 30 next April? Not likely, especially if he repeats his 18-goal performance from Year 1 in Minnesota.
Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Tuesday and his column, Top Shelf, appears Wednesday.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.