Nine Alums Could Lift Lord Stanley
Nine former college players have suited up for the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins in the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs, helping push each team to within four wins of the Stanley Cup.
The group includes two former Michigan State defensemen, two former Vermont forwards, two former St. Lawrence forwards, plus representatives of Minnesota, North Dakota and Ohio State.
The Spartans and Saints are each assured of an alum's name being on the Stanley Cup. Chicago's Duncan Keith and Boston's Torey Krug both played at Michigan State, while Chicago's Brandon Bollig and Boston's Rich Peverley both played at St. Lawrence. Peverley, to this point, is the only Saint with his name on the Cup as a player.
All of the above factors in only the players in the series. With management, many more former college players are in contention for the Cup, including Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli (Harvard), assistant GMs on both sides (Boston's Don Sweeney and Chicago's Norm MacIver) and both teams' directors of amateur scouting (Boston's Wayne Smith and Chicago's Mark Kelley).
A few more notes on the former college players in the Stanley Cup Final:
- This marks the 37th consecutive season that the Cup-winning team will feature at least one former NCAA player.
- Each of the last three Conn Smythe Trophy winners have been former college players (Jonathan Toews, Tim Thomas, Jonathan Quick). Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp both enter the Cup Final in the discussion for the award should the Blackhawks win.
- Three of Chicago's top six scorers in the regular season were NCAA alums, but Patrick Sharp wasn't among that group. The former Catamount has elevated his game in the playoffs, sharing the Chicago lead in goals (8) and points (14).
- The youngest of the former college players in the Final, Krug, may have made the biggest splash in these playoffs, becoming the first defenseman in NHL history to score four goals in his first five playoff games (Infographic on Krug). Krug was a junior at Michigan State just a year ago and follows a strong legacy of Spartan defenseman that includes Keith, plus fellow NHLers Jeff Petry, John-Michael Liles, Mike Weaver and Corey Potter.
- When Chicago won the Stanley Cup in 2010, Jonathan Toews joined Rod Brind'Amour (Michigan State, Carolina Hurricanes) as the only former college players to captain teams to the Stanley Cup. Toews has a chance to repeat that feat just three years later.
- None of the players who have appeared in the playoffs for Boston or Chicago won NCAA championships, though both teams have players among their "black aces" who did. The B's Jay Pandolfo won the 1995 NCAA title with BU. On the Chicago side, both Ben Smith (2008, 2010) and Jimmy Hayes (2010) won titles with BC. Their college teammate, Tommy Cross, is in the Bruins system but wasn't among the team's extras in the conference final.
- Both teams had a wealth of drafted talent in the NCAA ranks this season, including a few teammates. Cornell and North Dakota each featured prospects for both teams. Bruins' fifth-round pick Rob O'Gara helped Yale to the national championship as a freshman this year.