It's no easy task playing for the team at the centre of the NHL universe.
Barrie native and NHL goaltender Michael Hutchinson quickly learned that when he joined the Toronto Maple Leafs. The former Barrie Colt (2006-09) had his struggles for his "hometown team," but he was far from the reason the Leafs disappointed again this season.
Hutchinson was moved before the trade deadline and landed with a talented Colorado Avalanche team looking to add some experienced depth between the pipes behind regulars Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz.
As things can happen come playoff time, Hutchinson found himself front and centre with Colorado's playoff lives hanging in the balance against the Dallas Stars. Down 3-1 in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal, the Avs turned to the 30-year-old Hutchinson.
Supported by a five-goal first period outburst, Hutchinson and the Avalanche staved off elimination with a 6-3 win. He then made 27 saves in a 4-1 win to help Colorado even the series and send it to a seventh and deciding game.
The Avalanche came up short in a 5-4 overtime loss to end its playoff run, but Hutchinson played a key role in the comeback attempt and showed he can play well under big pressure.
Hutchinson wasn't the only one with Barrie connections making his mark in this year's playoffs. Vegas Golden Knights goaltending coach Mike Rosati, a former Colts goaltending coach, is just three wins away from another Stanley Cup appearance after Vegas blanked Dallas, 3-0, to even their Western Conference final at 1-1.
After helping the Los Angeles Kings win the Stanley Cup in 2014, former Barrie Colts forward Tanner Pearson (2010-12) found himself on the move last season, with a short stop in Pittsburgh before landing with the Vancouver Canucks.
Coming off a career-best season of 21 goals and 45 points in 69 games with the Canucks this year, Pearson played a vital role in helping one of the NHL's most exciting young teams knock off the Minnesota Wild and defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues before falling to the Knights in the Western Conference semifinal in a thrilling seven-game series.
Pearson provided the inexperienced Canucks with valuable playoff experience and leadership, and played a key role while collecting four goals and four assists in 17 games. His solid two-way game would is a key fit for a young team that will be looking to build on what happened this season.
The Calgary Flames might be the new Barrie Colts of the west. Colts graduates Andrew Mangiapane (2013-16), Rasmus Andersson (2014-16) and T.J. Brodie (2009-10) all played a central role in Calgary's playoff run. The Flames knocked off the favoured Winnipeg Jets in the first round before falling to Dallas in six games.
While the Flames might not have the cap room to re-sign Brodie, both Mangiapane and Andersson have established themselves as important building blocks for the future in Calgary. In his first full season, Mangiapane posted 17 goals and 32 points in 68 games, before playing a top-six role in the playoffs where he scored twice and added three assists in five games.
Andersson was an offensive force in his days with Barrie, but the Swedish native has developed into someone who can log key minutes in any role on the blue-line. He had three goals in Calgary's playoff run, but it was his stalwart work on the defensive side that really caught the attention of the hockey world.
Mark Scheifele's playoff run with Winnipeg didn't even last a full period after the star centre suffered an Achilles injury on a hit along the boards from Calgary's Matthew Tkachuk. It was a heartbreaking injury for Scheifele, who said he had no issue with the hit by Tkachuk.
Scheifele wasn't the only former Colts who had his playoff run end due to an injury. Andrei Svechnikov (2017-18) was helped off the ice in Game 3 of their opening-round playoff series loss to the Boston Bruins after suffering a leg injury.
The Russian forward is already an NHL star after posting 24 goals and 37 assists for 61 points in 68 games this season. He was even better in a short playoff run, scoring four times and adding three helpers for seven points in just six games.
All this at the age of 20. Even without his impressive lacrosse-type goal this season, Svechnikov appears on his way to becoming one of the premier players in the NHL.