Legendary hockey reporter and analyst Stan Fischler will write a weekly scrapbook for NHL.com this season. Fischler, known as "The Hockey Maven," will share his knowledge, humor and insight with readers each Wednesday.
Today, he compares two of the best smaller players in NHL history -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane and Hockey Hall of Famer Yvan Cournoyer, who won the Stanley Cup win 10 times with the Montreal Canadiens in the 1960s and 1970s.
NHL history is full of stories about smaller players who defied the odds by thriving amid their larger counterparts.
It was true in the 1960s and 1970s, when Montreal Canadiens forward Yvan Cournoyer exploited his speed and skill so well that he earned a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane does the same thing today, reminding many of Cournoyer.
Surprisingly for a player nicknamed "The Roadrunner," Cournoyer had trouble getting out of second gear after breaking into the NHL with the Canadiens during the 1963-64 season. Nor did he excel during the next couple of years.
Cournoyer's problem was that Montreal coach Toe Blake demanded he accentuate defense at the expense of his offensive assets, largely limiting his ice time to the power play. But things changed after Blake retired and was replaced by Claude Ruel for the 1968-69 season. Ruel and his successors allowed Cournoyer to show that he could excel in all situations. And he did -- to the point that Cournoyer played on 10 Stanley Cup-winners, one short of the NHL record of 11 held by longtime teammate Henri Richard?
Kane is a speedy right wing like Cournoyer (albeit without the catchy nickname) who also excels with a "you can't hit what you can't catch" philosophy -- as well as a seemingly radar-guided shot that has made him a key part of Chicago's three Stanley Cup championship teams since 2010.
Video: Cup Final, Gm6: Kane scores OT winner against Flyers
The first player taken in the 2007 NHL Draft continues to pile up points. Throughout last season, Kane kept the Blackhawks within sight of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and remained within hailing distance of the League scoring championship before finishing third with an NHL career-high 110 points (44 goals, 66 assists). That was actually four more points than he piled up in 2015-16, when Kane became the first U.S.-born player to win the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's scoring champion and also won the Hart Trophy as MVP.
Cournoyer isn't lacking for hardware either. In addition to 10 Stanley Cup rings, he was a four-time NHL Second-Team All-Star and won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1973 by scoring 15 goals and finishing with 25 points to help Montreal win the second of its six championships during the 1970s.
Kane's name is also on the Conn Smythe; he won it in 2013, the second of his three championship seasons with the Blackhawks. Kane also won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie in 2007-08, is a three-time NHL First-Team All-Star (as well as a Second-Team All-Star last season) and won the Ted Lindsay Award in addition to the Art Ross and Hart trophies in 2015-16.
Each has benefitted by playing with superb teammates. Cournoyer had Hall of Famer Jean Beliveau as his center for much of his career. Kane has spent much of his time in the League on a line with Chicago captain and center Jonathan Toews, who like Kane, Cournoyer and Beliveau was named to the 100 Greatest NHL Players in 2017.
Here's one final similarity: Each will go down in NHL annals as one of the best right wings ever.