With Jumbo Joe Thornton announcing his retirement from hockey this week, I got to thinking about all the great players who never won the Stanley Cup, from Antii Aalto to Zarley Zalapski and everybody in between.
There are five players that stand out as the absolute greatest players to never win Lord Stanley’s mug. Any other list is wrong, so if you’re expecting to see Pavel Bure’s name, you’ll want to go read a list of the greatest players ever to date Anna Kournikova (spoiler alert: Bure’s only #2).
Here, now, are the top five players to never win the Stanley Cup:
5. Dale Hawerchuk
The man who put the Winnipeg Jets on the map, the legendary Mr. Dale Hawerchuk.
Quite possibly the most under-rated player of all-time, Dale Hawerchuk unfairly lived in the shadow of Wayne Gretzky and the high-flying 1980s Edmonton Oilers.
Playing in the obscurity of Winnipeg, Hawerchuk won the Calder trophy for rookie of the year in 1982, and would go on to be one of the best centres in the league for the next decade.
Currently, Ducky sits at number 22 on the all-time scoring leaders list, and number five on the Never-Won-The-Cup list.
4. Joe Thornton
There was a moment when Joe Thornton looked like a bust. Now we expect his bust in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
He’s the only player in history to win the Hart Trophy as league MVP in a season where he got traded.
He’s 12th in all-time scoring, and second in all-time most disgusting beards (Brent Burns is the GOAT in that category).
Unfortunately, as of 2023, we know that Jumbo Joe will never hoist the Cup as a player.
1/2 of the Sharks’ legendary bearded duo, the always talented Joe Thornton.
Peter Stastny in the iconic Québec Nordiques sweater.
3. Peter STASTNY
Peter Stastny is the lowest-scoring player on this list with 1239 points, but he did it in just 977 games. If you adjust that scoring pace for the same number of games that Gordie Howe played (1,767), Stastny would’ve scored 2,240 points — still nowhere near Gretzky.
Anyways, although Stastny wasn’t remotely close to being as good as the Great One, he’s definitely good enough for number three on the list of greatest players to never win the Cup.
2. Adam Oates
If you stop to think about Adam Oates, you’re weird, because nobody’s ever stopped to think about Adam Oates — not even when he was playing.
That’s because he was the quintessential set-up man, the supporting act for the flashy superstar. One of only 13 players to record more than 1,000 assists, Oates was the anchor for three different dynamic duos in three different cities.
First, there was Hull and Oates in St. Louis. Then, there was the Oates/Neely pairing in BeanTown. And who could forget the Oates/Bondra era in Washington, when the Caps went all the way to the Stanley Cup finals in 1997 only to be swept by the Red Wings?
Adam Oates rocking the Caps’ legendary Screaming Eagle jersey.
Marcel Dionne, the greatest player to never win a Stanley Cup.
1. Marcel Dionne
One of only four players to score both 700 goals and 1,700 points, Marcel Dionne is the highest scoring player to never win the Stanley Cup (1,771).
Want an even nuttier stat? Dionne never even got close to winning the Stanley Cup. The furthest he ever made it in the playoffs was the second round — I’m pretty sure Anna Kournikova made it to the second round of the NHL playoffs.
Nevertheless, Dionne was one of the most gifted offensive players to strap on a pair of skates (those old ones with the knob on the heel), but he played his entire career in the same division as some of the best hockey teams ever assembled — The 70s Habs, and the 80s Oilers — so, what are you gonna do?
Stanley Cup woes: The verdict
So, there you have it: the five greatest players to never win the Stanley Cup.
As I said, this list is correct, so if your Best-Players-To-Never-Win-The-Stanley-Cup list has names like Jerome Iginla, Curtis Joseph, or Gilbert Perreault on it, that’s still a pretty good list, but it is a crude forgery. A lot of people get lists like this from their dads not realizing that their dads wrote them. But this one is written by me, Keener.
And, I’m right.
To get more of my correct/controversial thoughts on the hockey zeitgeist, subscribe to 4 Shots with Keener. Every week I take a look at what’s going on in the fastest game on ice and give you my two cents. Beats working.