10 NHL Players Who Experienced the Sophomore Jinx

Warren ShawCorrespondent IIAugust 20, 2010

10 NHL Players Who Experienced the Sophomore Jinx

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    Atlanta Thrasher defenseman Zach Bogosian did not have the best sophomore season in 2009-10. 

    In fact he may have had one of the worst given his huge potential.

    Zach Bogosian entered the NHL as a first-round draft choice and proceeded to live up to his press clippings by making the major leagues as a 19-year-old and displaying flashes of brilliance playing the second most difficult position on an hockey team (next to a goaltender).

    As a defenseman not only did Bogosian have to quickly learn his own team's offensive and defensive systems but he also had to adapt to players like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin speeding down his side of the ice.

    In his rookie year, despite an injury that kept him from playing the entire 82 game schedule, Bogosian performed above expectations delivering hard body checks and even producing a two-goal game toward the end of the season.

    He proved to be unafraid to take on league tough guys like Donald Brashear (traded to Thrashers from New York) and displayed his considerable offensive abilities more and more as the season progressed.

    He ended the season with a plus rating. His overall performance was impressive for a rookie defenseman and especially for a newbie playing on the Atlanta Thrashers blue line.

    In his second year, Bogosian emerged from training camp with expectations by many hockey watchers that he would shatter all of the previous offensive marks set by past Thrasher defenders.

    After a torrid start in which Bogosian led the NHL in goals by a defenseman his offensive production and overall play seemed to falter.

    After the season was over, it was disclosed by the Thrashers organization that Bogosian’s hand was injured affecting his shot and puck handling.

    Some would quickly describe Bogosian’s experiences as an excellent example of the sophomore jinx.

    Other notable players who have experienced the sophomore jinx in recent history have been Guy Lafleur, Jarome Iginla, Jeff Carter, Jordan Staal, Brian Leetch, and Mike Richards .

    Carolina Goaltender Cam Ward experienced problems playing up to his Stanley Cup winning standards the next year. Even Alex Ovechkin did not have the kind of season expected of him in his second year.

    The sophomore jinx is real to some players. Patrick Roy,and Teemu Selanne also experienced its affects.

    The fact is players do bounce back.  The burden of higher expectations and increased responsibility contribute to performance issues in a player's second year in the NHL.

Jordan Staal - Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Staal was a first round draft choice from the Peterborough Petes. After a 29 goal performance in his rookie year he was expected to have a even more productive second year.

    With Names like Malkin and Crosby sitting on the bench next to him many felt that Jordan Staal might score 40 goals in his second year.

    He ended up with 12 tallies for the entire season. 

MIke Richards - Philadelphia Flyers

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    Mike Richards participated in one of the most exciting playoffs that anyone could imagine. The Flyers limped into the playoffs after a terrible regular season performance.

    Few remember Richards producing 11 goals and 23 assists in his rookie season followed by an even more paltry 10 goals and 22 assists in his second year.

    Mike came around in his third season with 28 goals and 47 assists convincing the Flyers that he may just be able to provide the leadership they need to advance in the playoffs.

Jeff Carter - Philadelphia Flyers

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    Jeff Carter, like Mike Richards, contributed to his team and helped them advance deep into the playoffs.

    In his first year, he produced a respectable 23 goals and 19 helpers. In his second year his production dropped to 14 goals.

    In his third season, Carter elevated his goal total to 29 tallies.

    The Flyers needed his scoring and tenacity and he started to deliver.

Jarome Iginla - Calgary Flames

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    The winner of the 2009 Mark Messier Leadership Award, the Art Ross Trophy, two Rocket Richard Trophies,and the Lester Pearson Award was runner up for the Calder Trophy as the NHL's best rookie.

    Iginla scored 21 goals and 29 assists in his first season.

    In his second year, his productivity declined to 13 goals  and 19 assists.

    Iginla developed into the prototype power forward and is the leader of the Calgary Flames.

Brian Leetch - New York Rangers

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    Brian Leetch began his career in the NHL as a high potential defenseman with tremendous offensive skills.

    In his first year he won the Calder Trophy as the best rookie in the NHL. His 23 goals was a record that still stands for rookie rearguards. He ended the season with 23 goals and 48 assists.

    In Leetch's second year expectations were unbelievably high. Although respectable for most defenders Leetch produced a disappointing 11 goals and 45 assists.

    In his third year Leetch recovered producing 16 goals and 72 assists followed by a 103-point season.

    He also helped lead his team to the Stanley Cup.  

Alex Ovechkin - Washington Capitals

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    Ovechkin has won numerous NHL awards in his short career with Washington. Art Ross Trophies, Rocket Richard, Hart Trophies all sit on his shelf at home. The trophy that has eluded him is the Stanley Cup. 

    Ovechkin also won the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year. In his first season he scored 52 goals and 54 assists.

    To put things in perspective a second year performance of 46 goals and 46 assists is not exactly cause for concern, but for the magnificent Alex Ovechkin it created quite a bit of speculation.

    Ovechkins scoring prowess turned out to be no fluke. He is the man to beat in any preseason forecast and is still a favorite to lead his team to the Stanley Cup in 2011. 

Teemu Selanne - Winnipeg Jets

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    Teemu Selanne out performed Ovechkin in his first season in the NHL scoring 76 goals and 56 assists.

    Hockey watchers were amazed at the Winnipeg Jet rookie's performance.

    After winning the Calder Trophy as the leagues top rookie Selanne followed up his performance with 25 goals and 29 assists. 

Patrick Roy - Montreal Canadiens

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    Patrick Roy helped continue the Montreal Canadians mystique with his superb goaltending.

    In his first year he played in 47 games, He won 23 of them and then won 15 playoff games with a 1-93 goals against average in route to the Stanley Cup.

    In the next season, Roy was unable to duplicate his rookie year efforts. His playoff goals against average was a subpar 4.00.

    Roy recovered to take home numerous honors in his career and receive entry into the vaunted Hockey Hall of Fame.

    Roy has also won a record three Conn Smythe Awards as NHL Playoff MVP (1986, 1993, and 2001).

    Roy holds are career playoff games played (247), career playoff wins (151) and most combined wins–regular season and playoffs (702).

Cam Ward - Carolina Hurricanes

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    Cam Ward had a respectable regular season as a rookie goaltender with a 3.68 goals against average.

    It was in the Stanley Cup playoffs where he shined leading his team with a sparkling 15 wins and a 2.14 goal against average.

    He also won the Conn Smythe after posting the first shutout in 20 years of Stanley Cup finals.

    In his second season Ward was unable to duplicate his performance. His goals against average in the playoffs increased to 2.67. It was not good enough to repeat.

Guy Lafleur - Motreal Canadians

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    Guy Lafleur is a legend with the Montreal Canadians. Even with recent legal troubles, Lafleur is still much loved and admired for his many memorable goals while patrolling the right side for the Habs.

    Many don't remember the disappointment fans felt after he followed a 29 goal and 35 assist performance with a forgettable 28 goal 27 assist effort.

    After his legendary career with the Quebec Remparts, many fans were left feeling that Guy Lafleur would not achieve the greatest many Montreal natives hoped for.

    He scored 53 goals and 66 assists two years later and led the Canadians to numerous Stanley Cups.


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