As the New Jersey Devils fell into that darkest of playoff holes, a 3-0 series deficit, it was hard not to imagine them as they might be.
Captain Zach Parise is almost certainly headed to free agency in July and likely off to a different chapter in his career with another NHL club.
Martin Brodeur, at 40, is still playing like a kid but the end of his Hall of Fame career is, if not in sight, then around the corner.
They represent two cornerstone players whose absence would force a redefinition of the team's identity.
Given all that, you wonder who might step forward, who will step into the breach as the leader of the next generation on a team whose...