ANALYSIS: Former Jets coach Paul Maurice on verge of Stanley Cup victory

There is talk every year about the Stanley Cup being the most difficult trophy to win. But many of us, including me, assume that means physically tough.

I can assure you that every player on both the Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers is playing battered and bruised. After all, both teams are close to 100 games played this season. But it certainly isn’t the result that most people predicted after three games of the Stanley Cup final.

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On Saturday night, Paul Maurice and the Panthers might just become champions of the National Hockey League in four games. It was just a year ago when Maurice and the Panthers limped into Vegas to lose the Stanley Cup final to the Golden Knights in five games.

While all of last season’s injuries healed, the lessons learned from the disappointment are evident in the way they play the game: focused. Deliberate. Businesslike.

Mark Messier, a man who has his name on the Stanley Cup six times, always talks about the mental toughness it takes to win the Cup. He talks about controlling your emotions, having a purpose, maintaining discipline and executing a plan.

No doubt, the Panthers are proving they are the toughest team mentally and physically.

When the season started, many picked Maurice’s squad to be the favourite to win the Cup. They took the compliments in stride, taking nothing for granted.

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At the trade deadline, with the team in fine form, GM Bill Zito went out and acquired veteran presence in Vladimir Tarasenko and Kyle Okposo, knowing full well that it would take more than 18 skaters to win the Cup. And when the playoffs began, and many pointed to the Panthers as the East’s representative in the final, this team stayed on course, taking nothing for granted.

Focused. Deliberate. Businesslike.

Their mental toughness has been on full display now for two months. And now, they are 60 minutes away from having their names engraved on the toughest trophy to win.

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Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame inducts former NHLers, sports radio director

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