For decades now, the Stanley Cup has been regarded as the hardest trophy in sports to win. People often wonder why this is? It's compared to March Madness for the tournament's sheer size, the World Cup for having the eyes and hopes of the world on their shoulders, and the Commissioners Trophy for teams having to be sustainable through a grueling 162 game season, and then the playoffs.
Winning the Stanley Cup comes at a much higher cost than any of those aforementioned trophies. The 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs are a perfect representation of what it means to these athletes, and what it takes to hoist the Cup.
(Avalanche defenseman, Cale Makar, hoisting the Stanley Cup) (USA TODAY Sports)
In the following days after the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final, reports flooded in from postseason teams all around the NHL regarding what kinds of injuries these players were not just dealing with, but keeping quiet about, all in the name of being able to have their names etched into Lord Stanley's Cup, and be enshrined into history for the rest of time.
Seen below is the gruesome aftermath of the broken foot of Colorado forward, Valeri Nichushkin, an injury in which he suffered through for the entirety of Game 6.
According to a league source, Nichushkin couldn't even get his skate on without assistance prior to pregame warmups. 23 minutes of ice time on an excruciatingly painful broken foot! Please tell me, what other sport will you find players like this, who will do almost anything in their pursuit of a championship? Maybe the NFL, but certainly not the NBA, MLB, or MLS. And this is only one of the many injuries that the eventual champions were dealing with.
No team in the NHL has played more games over the last three seasons than the Tampa Bay Lightning, and it appears as if it finally caught up to them.
Brandon Hagel, for crying out loud, suffered from a fractured foot during the Lightning's second round series against the Florida Panthers. That means that Hagel had to go six games against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final, and then another six games against the Colorado Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Final, all on a fractured foot.
(TSN via Twitter)
82 regular season games, four postseason series' that run the risk of going seven games, countless hits, fights, pucks and sticks to the face, and other unnamed injuries, all en route to achieving a childhood dream.
Hockey players are willing to risk limb, and sometimes even life, to win it all.
The real cost of winning the Stanley Cup.
Sound off, let me know what you think is the toughest trophy in sports to win!