SUN Hockey Pool

Tony award

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:15 AM ET

When Tony Amonte was dealt to Chicago at the trade deadline in 1994, he later watched the New York Rangers win the Stanley Cup without him after his Blackhawks were ousted in the first round.

A dozen NHL seasons later, Amonte is still waiting for his chance to hoist the coveted Cup.

The closest he's been since was when the Philadelphia Flyers fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the 2004 Eastern Conference final. It's a sting he shares with many of his current Calgary Flames teammates who later lost in the seventh game of the Cup final to those same Bolts.

With 1,118 regular-season games now under his belt, Amonte finds himself seventh and climbing on a lamentable list: Most games played without winning the ultimate prize.

Dave Andreychuk topped the list until the Lightning won in '04. Post lockout, the unenviable title was held by Carolina Hurricanes defenceman Glen Wesley until the 'Canes claimed the Cup last season.

"You know what they say, woulda, coulda, shoulda," said the 36-year-old Amonte with a laugh before the Flames headed to Minnesota for tonight's game at the Xcel Energy Center. "That's just the way it goes. Who knew they were gonna win it?

"It was a great opportunity ... but what are you going to do? You just wait for your next one."

His ongoing quest for the Cup motivates Amonte every single game.

"It's why I came up here -- to win," said Amonte of joining the Flames as a free agent two summers ago. "When you get older in your career and you haven't won, it's the one thing on your mind the whole time.

"I can say when I was younger, I really didn't think about it much. I was just thinking about trying to become a good player in the league.

"After you do that, you start to think about winning and how important it is to you. I definitely want to win a Stanley Cup. That's what keeps me going."

Wesley, too, was driven by the same goal until his turn came. He can empathize with Amonte's plight.

"It's very hard to describe until you do it," said Wesley before his game against the Flames Tuesday night.

"It's probably the most difficult prize in sports to win. But it's all worth it."

The 'list' was brought to Wesley's attention when a writer in Raleigh compiled the top five individual droughts over the weekend.

"That's really the first time I've looked at something like that," he said. "You understand where those guys are and how long they've played, how long they've worked for it in the league. Every year goes by, that's another missed opportunity. Time's running out."

Amonte is able to joke about his relative misfortune. He's happy for guys like Wesley and Rod Brind'Amour, who won their first Cup as veterans but even more so for friends like Mark Recchi and Doug Weight, even though Recchi has claimed the prize before.

"It's great for whoever hasn't won it. It must be amazing," said Amonte. "It's nice when a close friend wins it. If you can't win it, at least a close friend can."


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