For all you supersitious Sharks fans out there, this is an if, if, if, if if, if, if, if, if!
If the Sharks win four more games before the season ends, in what order will the Stanley Cup be passed around?
Even casual fans are probably aware that the captain receives the Stanley Cup first from the commissioner. Some of you might not know though that the tradition is to then hand it off to the oldest player who has just won for the first time.
Now the only Sharks player who has won the Cup before is goaltender Martin Jones. For everyone else, it would be a first time thing.
The elder statesman on the roster is first-year Shark Dainius Zubrus (37-years old). Had the core group of Sharks already won a Stanley Cup in the past, Zubrus would no question be the first one handed the Cup from captain Joe Pavelski. However, since Shark mainstays Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau (both 36-years old) have meant so much to this organization for so long, Zubrus will have to wait.
There is a 99.99% chance Pavelski passes off first to either Thornton or Marleau. Zubrus has been a nice fourth-line acquisition this season, but this is not a Ray Bourque type situation. That said, it wouldn't be a total surprise if Pavelski went to Zubrus first or handed it directly to either Thornton or Marleau before raising it above his head himself.
Thornton or Marleau?
There is an argument to be made that Pavelski should hand it to Marleau first. No. 12 is the longest tenured Shark dating back to his draft year of 1997. That said, there is also an argument that Pavelski should pass it off first to Thornton, a player who has arguably been the team's MVP this season and is the second-longest tenured Shark. He has also set Pavelski up with tons of great scoring chances as linemates these past three seasons.
While Marleau and Thornton have been the whipping boys for years in the media for not getting over the hump, Thornton has gotten slightly more criticism by national pundits. Starting his career in Boston he was villified as some thought he was too young to captain that team. Given the extra hate he's had in the media and the fact he was the most recent captain before Pavelski, I believe Pavelski will chose to pass it off to him first.
Thornton will then do what he has looked to do for a long, long time, and dish off to Marleau.
Marleau will next look for the elder statesman, Zubrus, for his turn with the Cup.
Zubrus in turn will go to the next oldest player yet to skate with the Cup. That will just happen to be his old New Jersey Devil teammate in 35-year-old defenseman Paul Martin.
Martin will simply continue going down the path of age to the next eldest player on the roster, fellow 35-year-old winger Joel Ward.
Next up in the natural order of things would be 31-year-old defenseman Brent Burns.
This is about the time in the order where age will still play a role, but also friendships and longevity with the team.
There are a couple of slightly older players on the roster still left, but I fully expect Burns will pass of to 29-year-old Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
Vlasic will pass it to his defense partner and fellow 29-year-old, Justin Braun.
From here on out it is pretty much anyone's guess, but I'll just give the names in order of whom I believe will get it next.
Roman Polak (30)
Tommy Wingels (28)
Logan Couture (27)
Martin Jones (26)
James Reimer (28)
Nick Spaling (27)
Brenden Dillon (25)
Tomas Hertl (23)
Joonas Donskoi (24)
Melker Karlsson (25)
Matt Nieto (23)
Chris Tierney (21)
And then the rest of the bunch, the AHL/NHL tweeners like Dylan Demelo and Matt Tennyson for sure.