There is a disturbing trend in hockey these days. Two teams - both iconic Canadian teams - are purposely turning their back on their own history.
First it was the Toronto Maple Leafs. The CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Tim Leiweke wanted to take down many of the photographs of Maple Leaf's glorious past, saying “I don’t want the players walking in the hallways of the Air Canada Centre and seeing pictures from 1962,” he said. “Get rid of those pictures and tell them, this is your legacy.”
Now it is the Edmonton Oilers, where new head coach Dallas Eakins has removed much of the hallowed ghosts of Gretzky and the rest of the Boys On The Bus from the dressing room. "It's important for these players to know this is their dressing room. " he said. "When we walk in that door, there’s five Stanley Cups standing there. That's the only thing that matters."
When you have as a hallowed of a hockey history as the Leafs and Oilers have, you have to embrace it.
Will having posters of Dave Keon or Mark Messier with the Stanley Cup help the current team pick up more points in the standings in this season? No. But the current players will always be cognizant of the franchise's identity, and the opportunities and responsibilities to the fans and the city that goes along with that.
And maybe Leiweke and Eakins would argue removing the pressure of past greatness allows for current players to forge their own greatness. Now is their time.
Not all teams are so fortunate to have such championship legacies as Toronto and Edmonton. These franchises should always keep that history in the spotlight. They can successfully use it as a bar for current and future generations to reach.