Skill? Sheer talent? An award winning coaching staff? A good system?
Those things help, and they help quite a bit, but they aren't everything.
Watching 24/7 yesterday I was very struck by what Peter Laviolette said about teams that win. Teams that win championships have passion. Innate, burning passion the drives one to succeed in the face of nearly all odds. Passion that keeps you going through the rough times with confidence that it can and will get better. Passion is what drives the best among us to strive for more, instead of sitting back complacently thinking of what could be.
Passion is what it takes to win as a team in the National Hockey Leage and passion is what the Sharks lack.
Now look, I know that's a pretty heavy statement, so allow me to explain. Lacking that passion is not the same as lacking heart. I don't believe for a second that these guy do step on the ice every night wanting to win. I believe they do, I just feel that some of them, and unfortunately some of the leaders and stars on the team, lack the drive to player better than what they can do based on talent alone. They lack that fire, that desire to truly push themselves to the limits and overcome adversity once confidence has been lost. This is why they have yet to win a Cup. It's not the coach, it's not various fiddly "pieces", it's not the schedule, it's a lack of desire from the best among them to succeed at all costs.
To have drive like this, you cannot rely on skill alone. You have to listen to the worst of what the press, and your fans have to offer, and take it to heart without taking it too personally. You have to use that as motivation, to prove the doubter s wrong, to improve your game to more than anyone ever thought it could be, to play ever night like it matters, because it does.
Some of the Sharks do this. Some are motivated to succeed on their own,and you can see this based on how they play. For some, even in the worst of slumps, they work. They work harder than anyone else on the ice and they don't quit until the final horn sounds.
Until the big boys on this team stand up and lead by example, hold their teammates accoutable for floating along, and decide that their talent, while great, is not enough, they won't reach the promised land. As soon as true desire is kindled in their bellies, this team will be unstoppable. No matter the coach or the players, once they all commit to giving everything they have every moment of every game, there will be no team that can stop them.