Winning the Stanley Cup is the all the more special for non-Canadian players when they can share the experience with teammates who share their background. Here's a look at some Cup winners that featured teammates who had such bonds. In chronological order:
1938 Black Hawks
Chicago owner Fred McLaughlin never reached his goal of winning the Stanley Cup with only American players, but this team featured eight of them, which is still a record. Carl Voss of Massachusetts (left, pictured with Minneapolis native Cully Dahlstrom) scored the Cup-clinching goal in Game 4 of the finals against Toronto. Bill Stewart became the first American coach to win a Stanley Cup, and it didn't happen again until 1991 with Bob Johnson and the Penguins. Stewart was also an MLB umpire who worked the 1951 National League playoff series between the Dodgers and Giants.
The 1980 Islanders were the first Stanley Cup champions to include European players with defenseman Stefan Persson and winger Anders Kallur of Sweden. This was the first of four consecutive Cups for the Islanders, and they added two more Swedes, defenseman Tomas Jonsson in 1982 and winger Mats Hallin in 1983, as part of the run. Bonus trivia: Bob Nystrom (pictured), who bagged the 1980 Cup-winning goal in overtime against the Flyers, was born in Sweden but moved to Canada when he was 4.
1987, 1990 Oilers
In 1984, Jari Kurri became the first Finn to win a Stanley Cup. The Oilers had a second Finn, Esa Tikkanen, when they repeated as champs in 1985. The Oilers posted the FInnish hat trick by adding defenseman Reijo Ruotsalainen to the mix for their Cup teams in 1987 and 1990. The interesting wrinkle about Ruotsalainen was that he took a detour between Cups to play for a Swedish team, a Swiss team and the New Jersey Devils. The Oilers re-acquired him a trade with the Devils late in 1990 season.
There was no shortage of storylines for the 1994 Rangers. This was their first Cup since 1940. Coach Mike Keenan, after falling short in the finals twice with the Flyers and once with the Blackhawks, won what ended up being the only Cup of his career. And American defenseman Brian Leetch became the first non-Canadian to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. So it is sometimes overlooked that this was the first Cup champion to have Russians on the roster: Winger Alexei Kovalev (pictured), center Sergei Nemchinov and defensemen Sergei Zubov and Alexander Karpovtsev.
1997 Red Wings
Coach Scotty Bowman deployed The Russian Five as a single unit and allowed them to play the style that had grown up learning. It featured Slava Fetisov and Vladimir Konstantinov on defense with Igor Larionov, Sergei Fedorov and Slava Kozlov as the forwards. With deft puck control and a great understanding of where their teammates were -- and would be going -- on the ice, the Russian Five dazzled fans and befuddled opponents. But after winning the Cup, Konstantinov suffered career-ending injuries when his limo driver hit a tree.
2008 Red Wings
This team featured seven Swedes, including Nicklas Lidstrom who became the first European captain of a Stanley Cup champion. Henrik Zetterberg became the second European to win the Conn Smythe, following Lidstrom's precedent in 2002. The Red Wings have credited the sharp eye of their Sweden-based director of European scouting, Hakan Andersson, for helping them reel in this talent. In addition to Lidstrom and Zetterberg, the Wings drafted Niklas Kronwall, Tomas Holmstrom and Johan Franzen. The two other Swedes, Mikael Samuelsson and Andreas Lilja were signed as free agents.
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