Frank Mahovlich knows a thing or two about what it takes to win the Stanley Cup.
During his 18 seasons in the NHL, he hoisted the mug six times. One of those instances — his last of four with the team — came in 1967 as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
And while the team hasn’t won hockey’s ultimate prize since they knocked off the Montreal Canadiens in six games more than 52 years ago, the Hall of Famer has plenty of faith in the current roster.
"I thought they should have won the Stanley Cup [last season]," the 81-year-old said at the NHL Alumni Celebrity Golf Classic at Glencairn Golf Club on Monday, according to Dave McCarthy of NHL.com. "I think they've got a good enough team to do it."
Last season marked the third straight year that Toronto failed to get past the first round of the postseason. Yet, with one of the league’s top offences powered by the likes of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander, Mahovlich believes the team is on the cusp on breaking the drought.
"Now it's just building chemistry, getting the fellows together and playing together a little more," he said. "That's what you have to do to win Stanley Cups. It's chemistry, some teams get it, some teams don't, but I think they definitely have the potential to win. They've got so many good players there."
While the Leafs have plenty of skill up and down the lineup, three first-round exits have people questioning whether the team has the toughness and grit necessary to survive the two-month journey required to claim Lord Stanley’s mug.
Darcy Tucker, who played seven-and-a-half seasons with the Leafs and helped them reach the Eastern Conference Final in 2002, doesn’t think physical players need to be injected into a lineup in order for it to find playoff success.
“I see it more as a mindset," Tucker said, according to McCarthy. "It's not something where you say, 'We need this player or that player.' Come playoff time, it's just a mindset. Look at Boston with guys like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. They elevate their game during the playoffs because they've learned to do that as they've become battle-hardened.
"That's what the Leafs' next progression is. They've got to get a little more battle-tested come playoff time."
If anything, all of this talk about what needs to be done to win a Stanley Cup is a fantastic reminder of how difficult it truly is to win it in today’s NHL. If the first round of the postseason last spring was any indication, it’s a trophy that can be won by any squad that gets hot at the right time.
Regardless, having a couple of Maple Leafs legends encouraged by the team’s potential, growth and upward trajectory is never a bad thing for fans to hear.
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