“And now, a twenty- fourth Stanley Cup banner will hang from the rafters of the famous Forum in Montreal.”
MONTREAL, QC — Everytime I read or hear that quote, forever immortalized by the voice of Bob Cole, goosebumps surface along the top of my arms and the back of my neck. Real tears fill my eyes as I relish in the glory of the Montreal Canadiens last conquering crusade to bring Lord Stanley’s Cup home.
There is so much about that championship year that bears remembering. A year that was supposed to be a season of building became a year where youth, talent, and a determination defeated every other factor against them — proof once again that heart is the key component to victory at the championship level.
The road was difficult and filled with adversity. From the minute the Habs stepped onto the ice in Quebec City to face the Nordiques in the first round, it was clear that this battle would continuously be fought uphill. Losing the first two games in the series, there was much blame placed on star goaltender Patrick Roy. Newspapers from his hometown suggested that a trade was in order, while the Nordiques’ goalie coach, Dan Bouchard, stated that his team had “solved” the superstar.
But their words were proven wrong, as the Canadiens returned home, taking the next four games straight and defeating their inter-provincial rivals.
The second round was a different sort of beast. In a much anticipated series that saw Grant Fuhr take on Patrick Roy, the Buffalo Sabres went down in four straight — although not quietly. Each game was decided by a score of 4-3, and overtime was required for three of those contests.
Meanwhile, only one state away, the New York Islanders capped off a devastating upset of the defending championship Pittsburgh Penguins. That series, going a full seven games, ended with an overtime goal by David Volek, setting up a Wales Conference final with La Flanelle.
In the Campbell Conference, controversy erupted as the Toronto Maple Leafs saw their first opportunity to return to the Stanley Cup since they last won the championship in 1967. The road would take them through Los Angeles, and therefore through the Kings captain, Wayne Gretzky.
With a berth to the championship in sight, leading the Kings 3-2 in the best of seven series, a call by Kerry Frasier on a high stick by Gretzky to the face of Doug Gilmour would have led to a Leaf powerplay during overtime in game six — but none was forthcoming. Gretzky went on to score the winning goal forcing a seventh game, where the “Great One” played the best NHL game of his career (according to Gretzky himself.)
So the stage was set. The 1992-93 Stanley Cup final would see the Montreal Canadiens host the Los Angeles Kings, and as they say — history would be made.
Some great names in recent franchise history laced their skates for that series, many of them difference makers. Guy Carbonneau captained Les Boys and was the hero in a couple of the playoff games, securing victories with two overtime game winning goals. Kirk Muller was instrumental in the fifth and deciding game, by netting a goal a mere 71 seconds after the Kings tied the contest in the second period. It was a moment that clearly can be defined as the momentum shifting play of that game.
Other notable players were Brian Bellows, Mathieu Schneider, Patrice Brisebois, Vincent Damphousse, Eric Desjardin, Gilbert Dionne, and Mike Keane.
Over the course of eight days, from June 1 to June 9 1993, coach Jacques Demers (who had been brought on board that season to build a strong team for the future), coached his team in strong fashion, never outwardly worried at taking the extra risk to see the franchise complete the quest for another Stanley Cup championship.
No one will forget Demers calling for the measurement of Marty McSorley’s stick for an illegal curve. Had he been wrong, the Habs would have taken a two minute penalty which most likely would have resulted in a 2-1 loss, putting the team down by two games heading to Montreal.
Instead, the stick was deemed illegal, and with little time remaining, Demers pulled Roy for a two man advantage (6-on-4) in an attempt to draw the Canadiens even in the match. The result was Eric Desjardin potting both the tying and winning goals to even the series at a game apiece.
Montreal managed to do many things in that playoff run that many deemed impossible. They were never supposed to be a contender but they managed to dig deep and show that a team that plays with courage, as well as talent, can go the distance.
In doing so, they set a new record for most consecutive overtime victories by a franchise in the NHL playoffs (10), and once again gave the city of Montreal the opportunity to bask in the glory of being champions. They also managed to give Maurice “The Rocket” Richard one more taste of victory for the team that he held so close to his heart.
This coming Friday, September 2nd, Habs fans will unite at McLeans Pub to watch that historic journey in capturing the 24th Stanley Cup banner. We’d love to have you come join the All Habs network and relive our glorious past, as we look forward to a great 2011-12 campaign to reach number twenty-five (To guarantee a seat you are encouraged to RSVP HERE).
I left the quote from the beginning of this article unfinished. After declaring a 24th banner being hung from the rafters of the Forum, Bob Cole completed his thoughts with the words most coveted by any fan of le Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge:
“The Canadiens win the Stanley Cup!”
I’ll let AllHabs.net supporter Annakin Slayd take us back in time as we continue to look forward to number twenty-five.