Tampa Bay Lightning | A dynasty to save

(Denver) Last week, during media day, Julien BriseBois said that he had spent part of his summer 2021 looking for answers.

Posted yesterday at 8:09 p.m.

Guillaume Lefrancois

Guillaume Lefrancois
The Press

Answers to what? To the mystery of the three championships in a row. Why has it become so difficult to achieve this? Why were dynasties once so common in hockey and basketball, and now only Rafael Nadal at Roland-Garros and Joey Chestnut at Nathan’s line up the championships (our examples, not his)?

“I spoke to people in different organizations who won two titles, explained BriseBois, nine days ago. What kept coming back was that the players weren’t as hungry by year three. But I never felt that with us. In our meetings, our players always said that we remained on mission. »


PHOTO ANDRÉ PICHETTE, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Jacques Martin

Jacques Martin is one of the resources consulted by BriseBois. The Franco-Ontarian was an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2017-2018, who were aiming for a third title in a row. Their course had stopped in the second round.

According to Martin, it was not a problem of will. “The key was depth,” recalls the former Canadiens head coach, in an interview with The Press. “We lost Nick Bonino after the 2017 Cup and we weren’t able to replace him.

“It was above all the depth that hurt us. It’s interesting, because Julien lost his third line last summer. But he replaced it. »

Martin is referring here to Yanni Gourde, lost in the expansion draft, as well as Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman, who took advantage of their autonomy.

The Konstantinov effect

Dave Lewis was an assistant for the Red Wings when they triumphed in 1997 and 1998, before losing in the second round to the Avalanche in 1999.

These cups were won under special circumstances. A few days after the 1997 conquest, Vladimir Konstantinov was involved in a road accident which left him in a coma and ended his career.

“Our second, I knew from the start that we would win it, says Lewis, on the phone. We didn’t even have seven days to celebrate, and it hit us right in the face. It was big, we lost a star player, who played 30 minutes. But the second Cup had become like a mission. »

Under these circumstances, Lewis subscribed to Julien’s thesis on psychological challenge. “It was draining, physically and mentally. The guys had invested so much emotion in order to win that Konstantinov lifted her in the center of the ice… There was a kind of slack in the third year. »

Shots blocked

A dynasty takes a long time to build. Think lightning. If the team loses this week, the next opportunity to become a true dynasty will not come until 2025.

Martin remembers a “big disappointment” when the Sidney Crosby team lost in 2018. “You are so committed to establishing a dynasty, he recalls. You see it with Tampa, players are blocking shots. You play, you have a day to recover and you start again. It is an exceptional commitment. »

The commitment of the Lightning seems indeed irreproachable. Take blocked shots. The three forwards who blocked the most pucks on Wednesday were Ondrej Palat (5), Steven Stamkos and Anthony Cirelli (4 each). All the members of the first two lines who, in season, do not block as many.

It is therefore quite possible that the depth becomes problematic at the Lightning. While the Avalanche welcomed the return of Nazem Kadri on Wednesday, Tampa remained without Brayden Point and lost Erik Cernak. Not to mention Nikita Kucherov, who seemed far from 100%.

Patience rewarded

Jacques Martin also applies to emphasize the “patience” of Lightning and Avalanche. Jon Cooper and Jared Bednar are two of the longest-serving head coaches in the NHL.

“The coaches have been there for a long time. Tampa lost in the finals in 2015, then in the semifinals against us. They missed the playoffs once, were swept in the first tour by Columbus. Despite that, they kept the same coach. I give a lot of credit to these organizations, because they never panicked. »

Hockey school is back

It is with a certain enthusiasm that Jacques Martin is finally relaunching his hockey school in Rigaud. He had put it on hiatus for the past two years for reasons you might expect. The two-week event will begin on July 31. At the time of writing these lines, there were still a few places left.

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