He is in Ottawa now for one reason, the very thing that has driven him throughout his National Hockey League career.
Even though he already owns a pair of them, Cory Stillman’s thirst for a Stanley Cup ring hasn’t dwindled in the least. Not when he looks around the Ottawa Senators dressing room and sees the prospect of a third one as something that’s very real.
“In this game, you dream about it,” the 13-year veteran said about the opportunity to win a third Stanley Cup. “There’s nothing better than winning, and being there two of the last three years was great.”
Stillman was an 80-point man back in 2003-04, when he helped the Tampa Bay Lightning reach the pinnacle of the hockey world. There he was again two years later, turning in a 76-point season – and adding another 26 in the playoffs – as the Carolina Hurricanes got their hands on Lord Stanley’s chalice.
It’s that championship pedigree that led Senators head coach/general manager Bryan Murray to pull the trigger on a deal last month that brought Stillman and defenceman Mike Commodore – another member of that Hurricanes title team – to Ottawa in exchange for Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves.
“Cory Stillman’s a real good player,” Murray said of his key acquisition. “He’s smart, he’s patient with the puck, he’s got some good ambition in his game. Defensively, he knows how to play.
“I think he’s a fit (for us). Good people are always a good fit and he’s a good person.”
Senators goaltender Martin Gerber, also a teammate of Stillman’s with the Hurricanes, knew right away what the Senators were getting when they brought in the crafty veteran.
“Stillman is obviously a really smart player,” said Gerber. “He especially will help us a lot on the power play and with special teams. In tight games, he always comes up with something. It’s definitely fun to watch.”
Stillman wasted no time making his mark, producing 11 points in his first 14 games in a Senators uniform. He found an early home on a line alongside Antoine Vermette and Chris Kelly, with the trio clicking offensively almost from their first game together.
And now, as the regular season nears its end, Stillman’s favourite time of the year is quickly approaching. He needed to waive a no-trade clause to make the move to Ottawa, and he’s now playing a mere three hours drive from his hometown of Peterborough, Ont.
But there was more to the lure than that. Much more.
“It is the right decision to come here,” Stillman said after the trade was completed. “It’s an opportunity to play, it’s an opportunity to win.”
He hopes he can help provide some of the push needed to help finish the job for a Senators team that made it all the way to the Stanley Cup final a year ago.
“The team here is obviously going through steps,” said Stillman. “They’ve made the playoffs, gone to the finals. You don’t have to say too much to these guys. They know what it takes to win, the battle you have to go through. I’m just a piece of that now and if I have something to say that maybe makes a difference, I will say it.”