No matter who ultimately wins the Stanley Cup later this month, one thing is certain: a former defenseman from Michigan State will be getting his name carved on the chalice.
Either it'll be Duncan Keith for the Chicago Blackhawks, who played a season-and-a-half with the Spartans in the early 2000s—or Torey Krug, who earned All-America and Hobey Baker finalist status while playing three recent campaigns for the Green & White.
Keith got his name on the Cup with Chicago in 2010, the last active NHL player hailing from Michigan State to do so, and has 11 points in 16 playoff games so far this spring. He played at MSU from 2001 to late 2002, and was a 2001-02 Central Collegiate Hockey Association all-rookie team honorable mention, according to his Spartan bio.
He also scored his first career collegiate goal in a 3-3 tie with Michigan before 74,554 fans outdoors at Spartan Stadium in "The Cold War", which initiated the outdoor hockey game craze.
Krug, who scored four goals in the Eastern Conference semifinal this year and has six points in the playoffs, is in his first NHL postseason since turning pro following the 2012 NCAA East Regional. As a junior in 2011-12, he tied for the CCHA scoring lead with 29 points in league play, the first MSU defenseman to ever lead the circuit in points.
In 114 career outings, Krug posted 26 goals and 83 points while earning a slew of accolades, as noted in his MSU bio.
According to msuspartans.com, 11 former Spartans have raised the Cup a total of 12 times, led by Craig Simpson, who won with the Edmonton Oilers in 1988 and 1990. Other Spartans still playing professionally who have won the Cup include Andrew Hutchinson (Carolina, 2006), Drew Miller (Anaheim, 2007) and Justin Abdlekader (Detroit, 2008).
Two other Spartans will also be involved in this year's Final, in Boston goaltending coach and former MSU netminder Bob Essensa, and NHL referee and former MSU blueliner Wes McCauley, according to the Lansing State Journal.
This year's matchup is also the first time ever that the Blackhawks and Bruins will face each other in the final, and the first time that two NHL Original Six squads will play for the Cup since Montreal downed the New York Rangers in five games in 1979 to complete a stretch of four consecutive Cups.
And when this series is finally done, a player from MSU will be holding the Stanley Cup aloft—again.