At trading deadline day I always feel bad for Mike Gartner.
Whether you agree Mike Gartner was one of the all time greats or not is up to you. Bottom line is he played for 20 years, scored an unbelievable 708 career goals and is a Hall of Famer.
But he never had any luck in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The NHL trading deadline played a big role in his post-season circumstances.
When Stanley Cup contenders make big trade deadline trades, fans get quite excited about who they chopper in to help the cause. But the players who are dumped to non-contenders are often quickly forgotten.
Gartner was traded three times on the deadline, just one time fewer of Alan May.
In 1989 he left the only NHL home he had ever known, leaving Washington with Larry Murphy and heading to Minnesota in exchange for Dino Ciccarelli and Bob Rouse.
Two years later he was on the move again, this time headed to the New York Rangers for Ulf Dahlen. A year later the North Stars were in the Stanley Cup finals.
In New York Gartner played effectively with Mark Messier and was one of many weapons the Rangers collected for their run at the Stanley Cup. But at the trading deadline he was traded for Messier's old running mate Glenn Anderson.
The Rangers would go on to win the Stanley Cup several weeks later, without Gartner. It would have been his best chance to win the Stanley Cup in his 20 year professional career. He would never do that.
Gartner is probably the best example of a traded away player by that year's Stanley Cup champion. The Rangers also gave up on Tony Amonte and Todd Marchant that year, too. Dave Lewis, Billy Harris, Zarley Zalapski, Perry Berezan, and Brendan Morrison are other pretty good players who narrowly missed what would have been their only Stanley Cup championship because of the trading deadline.
Let's take a look at the greatest players to never win the Stanley Cup:
1. Peter Stastny - Peter Stastny scored 1239 points in 977 games, including 7 seasons with over 100 points. Only Wayne Gretzky had more points in the 1980s. Yet Stastny and the Quebec Nordiques never got close to the Stanley Cup finals.
2. Marcel Dionne - When Marcel Dionne retired his 1771 points was second only to Gordie Howe. For all his regal season out in Los Angeles, he never earned hockey's ultimate crown.
3. Gilbert Perreault - The most entertaining player of his generation, Perreault led the Buffalo Sabres to the 1975, just five years into the franchise's existence. The Flyers rattled the Sabres that year, and Buffalo never got close to the Cup again in Perreault's time.
4. Brad Park - Brad Park never seemed to get his due. Although he ranks as one of hockey's all time great defensemen, he was always overshadowed, first by Bobby Orr and Denis Potvin and later Ray Bourque and Paul Coffey. Park did make it to 3 Stanley Cup finals, but was never allowed to hoist the silver chalice.
5. Jean Ratelle - Jean Ratelle played with Park in both New York and Boston. If anyone could understand Park's disappointment in those three finals, it was the slick Hall of Fame centerman Ratelle. He was there for all of them too.
6. Norm Ullman - Then there is the great Norm Ullman. The Hall of Fame standout with Detroit and Toronto played in five Stanley Cup championships, and not once was on the winning side.
7. Adam Oates - With 156 points in 163 playoff games, Oates is the highest scoring player in NHL history never to win the Stanley Cup.
8 and 9. Borje Salming and Darryl Sittler - These two were the face of the Toronto Maple Leafs throughout the 1970s. But they never were able to lead the Harold Ballard-shackled Leafs to the promiseland.
10. Pat Lafontaine - The US Olympic poster boy stepped out of the Sarajevo games in 1984 and directly into the New York Islanders drive for five Stanley Cups. Wayne Gretzky and the Oilers ended the Islanders' dynasty that spring. Despite a Hall of Fame career of over 900 games, Lafontaine never made it back to the Stanley Cup finals.