Success is never linear and it takes time to win.
For every Pittsburgh or Chicago there are a handful of other teams that spent years running it back before finally winning. The past four Stanley Cup winners have been teams that spent years with a core and continued to draft, develop, and tweak with their roster before finally getting over the hurdle.
The Tampa Bay Lightning drafted Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman first and second overall in back-to-back drafts in 2008 and 2009.
They then only made the playoffs once in the first five years after drafting Stamkos. After that, it took them seven more years to win their first cup. Even though they did have more playoff success over that time, after 11 years, many people questioned whether that core could ever win a cup.
Now, they’re the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions and could very well win their third in a row this season. Management stayed patient and continued to draft and develop key players that would help them go on to win a cup.
The Washington Capitals drafted Alex Ovechkin first overall in 2004. They only made it past the first round once in five years and didn’t even qualify for two seasons. Despite putting up strong numbers in the post season, many people questioned not only Ovechkin’s leadership abilities but if a team built with a franchise winger could ever win a cup. Finally, after 13 seasons in the NHL, Ovechkin lifted the Stanley Cup over his head.
The Toronto Maple Leafs clearly have the talent to make noise in the post-season. They took the defending cup champions to a tight 2-1 game seven. As much as fans want a head on a pike, it’s not necessary to get this team to the next level. Dubas and Co. should keep the core together until they can’t any longer.