How do you get your name on the Stanley Cup? The first step is a doozy (your team has to win a grueling tournament called the Stanley Cup Playoffs). But the next steps aren’t necessarily easy. For players, the criteria for inclusion has changed over the years.
- 1926-70 – played half (or more) of regular season games, or at least one playoff game.
- 1971-76 — played at least one playoff game.
- 1976-present — played in half (or more) of regular season games, or at least one game in the Stanley Cup Finals.
- 1994 — NHL allows teams to petition the league to include players who did not meet the criteria due to extenuating circumstances.
As you may know, I started looking into this because the Kings successfully petitioned on behalf of Davis Drewiske (9 regular season games, 0 playoff games) and Kevin Westgarth (25 regular season games, 0 playoff games) but inexplicably decided not to petition on behalf of Andrei Loktionov (39 regular season games, 2 playoff games). The Kings offered a (to my ears) lame excuse for this, and I responded that I would be shocked to find that there had ever before been a situation in which a team failed to petition on behalf of a player who actually played in the playoffs while simultaneously petitioning on behalf of players who had played fewer games and had not played in the playoffs at all.
I then looked at all seasons since 2005, and found that the Loktionov situation was indeed unprecedented going back at least that far.
Now, let’s go back all the way to the first year of petitioning, which was introduced in 1994.
Petitions to include players’ names on the cup, year by year, 1994-2012
Parentheses after players’ names indicate regular season games played followed by playoff games played.
- 1994 – The Rangers petitioned to include Ed Olczyk (37, 1) and Mike Hartman (35, 0). The league said no. The Rangers protested. The league relented and included Olczyk and Hartman. This is the only instance I know of in which a club protested the league’s decision.
- 1997 – The Red Wings petitioned to include Kevin Hodson (23, 0) but not Mike Knuble (9, 0). The league granted the petition for Hodson.
- 1998 – The Red Wings chose not to petition on behalf of Norm Maracle (4, 0) and Darryl Laplante (2, 0).
- 1999 – The Stars petitioned on behalf of Brent Severyn (30, 0) and Derek Plante (16,0), and the petitions were granted. The Stars did not petition on behalf of Doug Lidster (17, 4) or Brad Lukowich (14, 8). This ESPN article indicates “the Stars didn’t ask to have Lukowich’s name included because they assumed it would be.” It sounds from that like GM Bob Gainey mistakenly believed that players who played in at least one playoff game were automatically included (maybe because that had been the rule when he won his first three cups with the Habs). The Lidster/Lukowich omission is the only other instance in NHL history (besides Loktionov) in which a team petitioned for a non-playoff player while not petitioning for a player who played in the playoffs. And it appears (according to ESPN) to have been an accident.
2000 – The Devils successfully-petitioned on behalf of all three non-qualifying players who played at least one game for the Devils that year — Ken Sutton (6, 0), Steve Kelly (1, 10), and Steve Brule (0, 1) — but did not petition for Deron Quint (4, 0), who had been suspended for not reporting to the AHL for a conditioning assignment.
- 2001 – The Avs successfully-petitioned on behalf of Bryan Muir (8, 2).
- 2002 – The Red Wings chose not to petition on behalf of anyone, including Maxim Kuznetsov (39, 0) and Sean Avery (36, 0) — both of whom were traded to the Kings the following season — Jesse Wallin (15, 0), Uwe Krupp (8, 2), and Ladislav Kohn (4, 0). The decision not to petition Krupp, who actually played in the playoffs, is unusual in the history of these petitions, but at least the Red Wings were consistent in that they didn’t petition for anyone.
- 2003 – The Devils chose not to petition on behalf of Christian Berglund (38, 0), who had been sent to the AHL midway through the season.
- 2004 – The Lightning successfully-petitioned on behalf of Darren Rumble (5, 0) and Stanislav Neckar (0, 2).
- 2006 – The Canes petitioned on behalf of Andrew Hutchinson (38, 0), Josef Vasicek (23, 8), Anton Babchuk (22, 0), and those petitions were granted. They chose not to petition on behalf of Keith Aucoin (7, 0) or David Gove (1, 0).
- 2007 – The Ducks successfully petitioned on behalf of George Parros (32, 5). Petitions on behalf of Mark Hartigan (7, 1) and Aaron Rome (1, 1) were denied. They chose not to petition on behalf of seven players who did not appear in a playoff game.
- 2008 – The Wings successfully petitioned on behalf of Mark Hartigan (23, 4), and Derek Meech (32, 0), and chose not to petition on behalf of six players who did not appear in the playoffs, all of whom played in 8 or fewer regular season games.
- 2009 – The Pens successfully petitioned on behalf of Mike Zigomanis (22, 0), but chose not to petition on behalf of thirteen players who did not appear in a playoff game and who played in 20 or fewer regular season games. Harsh, if you’re Chris Minard (20, 0) or Dany Sabourin (19, 0), but at least it’s consistent.
- 2010 – The Blackhawks successfully petitioned on behalf of Bryan Bickell (16, 4), and chose not to petition on behalf of four players who did not appear in the playoffs and who played no more than 8 regular season games.
- 2011 – The Bruins successfully petitioned on behalf of Marc Savard (25, 0). The Bruins’ petitions on behalf of Shane Hnidy (3, 3) and Steve Kampfer (38, 0) were denied by the league. The Bruins chose not to petition on behalf of four players who did not appear in a playoff game and played fewer than 23 regular season games.
- 2012 – The Kings successfully petitioned on behalf of Kevin Westgarth (25,0) and Davis Drewiske (9,0), but chose not to petition on behalf of Andrei Loktionov (39,2) or Scott Parse (9,0).
The Kings offered two different rationales for this decision. The first was that Westgarth and Drewiske had been with the team all year, whereas Loktionov had not. Looking back at the history of petitions, that rationale had been used both to include players who were frequent healthy scratches and to exclude by not petitioning players who spent most of the year in the minors, or who were sent to the minors mid-way through the season never to return. As far as I can tell, that rationale had never before been used to exclude a player who had actually appeared in playoff games that season.
Excluding the Stars’ apparently-accidental omission of Lukowich and Lidster, the 2002 Wings were the only previous team not to petition a player who appeared in the playoffs, but that player — Uwe Krupp — had only played in 8 regular season games in addition to the 2 playoff games, and the Wings didn’t petition any players that year, so — as I said earlier — they were consistent.
Chart Fun for You
Here are the 18 players since 1994 who played in at least one playoff game and did not meet the criteria for inclusion. All but four (Lidster, Lukowich, Loktionov and Krupp) were petitioned by their teams. Even ignoring the fact that Lidster and Lukowich were excluded by accident, none of those players played more games than Loktionov did that season.