This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Canadiens’ last Stanley Cup championship.
The Canadiens won their 24th Cup with a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings In Game 5 of the final on June 9, 1993 at the Forum.
Below are the columns by Red Fisher and Michael Farber that were published in The Gazette following that game.
(Gazette file photo/AFP/Getty Images)
THAT WINNING HAB-IT
PUBLISHED IN THE GAZETTE ON JUNE 10, 1993
This infernally long season was over, and there was Kirk Muller, crying beautiful tears, and talking about what this Stanley Cup victory was all about.
“It’s not the name on the Cup,” he said after this 4-1 victory locked up the Stanley Cup final in five games against the Los Angeles Kings. “It’s not the ring.
“What it is,” he said, “is somewhere down the road … next week, next year … 20 years from now … somebody will look at you and tell you you’re a winner.
“It’s looking in the mirror and knowing you’re a winner,” said Muller, the winner.
It had nothing to do with the second-period goal he scored last night, which eventually proved to be the winner. It had everything to do with the leadership he showed from Game 1 in the regular season – up to and including last night.
Kirk is work. He’s don’t-give-an-inch stuff, but if you must, make sure it’s only an inch. It’s why he was talking through the tears.
“I was scared all through this last one,” he said. “I don’t think I started smiling until there were 10 seconds left and we were up by three.
“I didn’t want to go back to Los Angeles,” said Muller. “I didn’t want to think about it, because I didn’t know how much I had left. I didn’t know how much any of our guys had left.”
So now it was over and there were the Canadiens, Muller among them, hoisting the Stanley Cup toward the 23 banners hanging in places of honor above them.
After 84 regular-season games, the Cup had landed in Montreal in the Canadiens’ 20th playoff game – and is there anything better to celebrate – at least for a little while?
And there was what they had played for all these months: the Cup being handed to Guy Carbonneau and then to Denis Savard, who was kept out of the last four games with a broken foot. Then, it’s Mike Keane hoisting it, followed by Mathieu Schneider. Eric Desjardins … Brian Bellows … Patrick Roy!
Ah, Patrick: isn’t that where all of this starts?
Roy was what most of these 20 playoff games were all about – which is why he takes home the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs. He won his first in 1986, the last time the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup.
It’s Roy, and last night it also was Paul DiPietro, the game’s first star with two goals. It was Muller and Stephan Lebeau, who provided the Canadiens with a 3-1 lead after the first two periods against a plucky, but tiring Los Angeles team.
It was John LeClair, who assisted on the DiPietro and Lebeau goals – before and after Marty McSorley scored the only Kings goal early in the second period.
It was the Canadiens, as a team, which held the normally explosive Kings to 14 shots in the first two periods – only 19 in the game – none by Wayne Gretzky.
What it was, without question, was the Canadiens’ best game of the playoffs. It was domination from start to finish. It was the way winners have to play to win. It was why they won.
“You always wonder whether guys are ready to pay the price in games like these,” said Muller. “You wonder and then you’re afraid maybe a few of the guys won’t or can’t go higher and farther and that could be enough to hurt you.”
“All of us did it tonight,” said Muller. “It was there for us. We … all of us … reached out and didn’t let go.”
The victory brings an end to a remarkable post-season which started with a six-game victory over the Quebec Nordiques, after the Canadiens had lost the first two games of the Adams semi-final.
Then came a four-game sweep in the Adams final over Buffalo – three in overtime.
The New York Islanders fell in five in the Wales Conference final, the same number the Canadiens needed to erase the Kings.
Twenty games, including a record 10 consecutive victories in overtime, after losing their first game of the playoffs in OT – and isn’t that reason enough for a party?
So the Canadiens partied on the ice, while nearly 18,000 fans rose to their feet and partied off it.
Players hugged and kissed each other, skating frantically from one to the other, and then they did it all again. Over and over again, because these things come once, and perhaps never again. Take it and enjoy it while you can … while it’s there.
The Canadiens got the only goal of the first period – but only barely.
In other words, there’s Roy … again … when he’s needed.
He was there less than a minute into the game for a stop on Tony Granato. He was there again on Luc Robitaille – who had three of the Kings’ seven shots – during a power-play situation.
“When Patrick Roy makes a promise,” said Keane, “he sticks to it. He isn’t an outspoken guy, he’s just a calm guy. When he speaks, the players listen. He said he was going to shut the door tonight and he did,” said Keane.
There were opportunities on both sides, but what the first period was about, mostly, was speed. Both teams gathered their legs beneath them and went for it – the Kings to stay alive and, of course, the Canadiens to put away the season.
This was a night when the best players from both teams came to play – starting with Roy and Kelly Hrudey. Yet it was DiPietro who scored the only goal with fewer than five minutes remaining shortly after Granato had returned from serving a tripping penalty.
The big play was made by LeClair, the hero of the previous two games in Los Angeles, where he had scored overtime goals in 4-3 and 3-2 victories. This time, his big contribution came when he used his size to crush defenceman Tim Watters with a bodycheck near the Los Angeles circle. From there, Gary Leeman slipped the puck to DiPietro, who was to score yet another in the third period.
That was one – and seconds later, Vincent Damphousse was in a delightful position to add another when he swept in alone on Hrudey. The Los Angeles goaltender stopped him. Or how about Guy Carbonneau hitting the post with a one-timer less than two minutes into the second period.
These things happen, right? What also almost always happens when one team fritters away opportunities is that the opposition puts one on the board on its first real chance. So there’s McSorley lofting a rising shot which somehow managed to elude Roy – but only after it struck one post, then the other, fell below the line and out.
In a perfect world, the playoffs’ most valuable player probably would have liked another crack at the McSorley shot. On the other hand, who’s complaining when it’s becoming increasingly clear, despite the fears and tears, that this series would not go beyond this night.
Not when Muller, who directed and choreographed the go-ahead goal a little more than a minute later.
It began in a fairly harmless manner, when Muller fed Damphousse behind the Los Angeles net. Second effort by Damphousse allowed him to elude two Kings behind the net, and now he’s dropping the puck to the lip of the crease where Muller, who started it all, snapped it beyond Hrudey.
This one, you should know, had speed and aggressiveness and unflinching work by both sides. It had soaring emotions – all of which Lebeau, Keane and LeClair delivered for the goal which provided the Canadiens with a 3-1 margin.
The day before, after the Canadiens’ arrival from Los Angeles with a 3-2 overtime victory in their satchels, Lebeau had been muttering unhappily about missing what would have been the winning goal in Game 4, with roughly two minutes remaining in regulation time.
“The post,” he grunted, “I hit the post. I had the open side, and I hit the post,” he said quietly.
“Tomorrow,” he said. “Tomorrow.”
Tomorrow was last night, after Lebeau had spent a sleepless one.
“I could not sleep last night, and I could not sleep this afternoon. We didn’t want to go into overtime again. I think that’s why we played so hard. We knew that once we got the lead, we would have to keep on going at them, and that’s what we did.”
The Canadiens, as a team did it all.
The mighty weight of the Stanley Cup feels just great
PUBLISHED IN THE GAZETTE ON JUNE 10, 1993
Kirk Muller, a team player to the champagne-soaked end, turned in the bedlam of the Montreal dressing room to Mike Keane and passed on the prize.
“Heavy bugger,” Muller said under his breath.
You can sum up the Stanley Cup in almost any two words you choose.
But in a moment when it was almost impossible to think let alone hear yourself think, Muller probably summarizied the Stanley Cup better than he dreamed.
The Stanley Cup really is a heavy bugger, but not only in dead weight.
“I was so pumped up,” Lyle Odelein said, “I could have lifted the Cup to the sky.”
This is a trophy that that comes with the weight of 100 years of history, of dreams, of commitment, and in Montreal, of expectations. There is nothing in sport so ladened with purpose, so filled with emotions.
The Stanley Cup is not lightly carried, and surely it is never lightly won.
“The first time I saw the Stanley Cup was a Friday afternoon,” J.J. Daigneault said. “It was a Friday. The afternoon. I had skipped school. I went to Old Montreal. That’s where the Canadiens were massing for their parade.
“I went to cheer their captain, Serge Savard, and now he’s my boss. That day was great, but now I have experienced the same thing as he did. It feels better to touch it rather than look at it. But I know the other side, but I know how the people of Montreal feel.”
Change the Metro stop from Guy to Carbonneau.
Melrose Ave. in N.D.G. is going to be called Rue Demers from this day forward. The monarchy is back in good graces – long live the Roy.
The Canadiens won their first Stanley Cup since 1986 and their first on home ice since 1979 last night, beating the Los Angeles Kings, 4-1, to win the series four games to one. But the Canadiens 24th Stanley Cup is not theirs alone. The dream is shared.
The Cup made the rounds in a dressing room crammed with parents and brothers and cousins and a family so extended it spilled out into the Forum hallway.
The bottles of champagne were passed around as if it were a frat party, and Guy Carbonneau, Keane and Muller all drank directly from the bowl. The vintage was 1990, Kritter, Brut de Brut from France so no matter what anyone says, things European can actually get to experience the Cup.
On the other side of the Forum, Wayne Gretzky understood. He had done this four times, guzzled champagne and took a spin with the biggest prize. The Stanley Cup is a heavy bugger for him too, the weight of his lofty standards giving him pause to think even as Montreal paused to drink.
Amid the happiness, there were dark hints of the future.
“I said before the playoffs began that I want to go out on a high,” Gretzky said in a voice filled with resignation.
“I think I played as well as I can. The next few days I’ll talk to my wife. I’m not leaning toward (retirement), but I’ve fulfilled my obligation to Los Angeles. (Owner) Bruce McNall put a blank piece of paper in front of me and told me to fill it in. That’s not a problem and it’s not a case of wanting to go anywhere else. I just don’t want to go out before I’m pushed out.”
This game can be cruel, the sweet moments truly rare. So as Carbonneau stood with the Cup in the corner of the room, he yelled, “Please, please let us enjoy this.” He had won the Cup in 1986, and this was a seven-year itch that he needed to scratch. Like Gretzky, who knows when there will be another for Carbonneau.
“You try to take the moment and just hold on to it,” Odelein said. “You think about what you’re doing and you try to make sure you remember it. I’m from Saskatchewan, and I doubt there’s a kid out there tonight who wouldn’t have wanted to do what I did – skate with the Stanley Cup, do what great player like Greztky and (Jari) Kurri did so many times. Unbelievable. This year I earned the right to hold it.”
The Stanley Cup is a heavy bugger because it is a privilege as well as an ornament. A hockey player dares not touch the Stanley Cup; it is considered bad luck.
Stephan Lebeau remembers looking at the Cup in the Forum garage in 1989 when Calgary snitched it right from under the Canadiens’s noses, but he did not put his hands on it.
“You don’t touch what isn’t yours,” Lebeau said. “I didn’t want to touch it until we won it.”
There was exquisite goaltending again, of course, and Roy joined legends Bobby Orr, Bernie Parent, Gretzky and Mario Lemieux as a two-time winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player in the playoffs.
But there was also the opportunism on offence and the hounding forechecking and that had become standard for destiny’s darlings. These were no ghosts. They were shadows.
Even after Marty (The Stick) McSorley tied the score, 1-1, early in the second period, the Canadiens never seemed in trouble. Muller put the Canadiens ahead with the Cup-winning goal 1:11 later, and if there were poetic justice, it – like the pass – came from Vincent Damphousse who had taken up residence behind the net in Gretzky’s old haunt.
Not only did the Canadiens beat the Kings in this match, Damphousse outshone The Great One at his game.
This was a long, strange trip. Along the way coach Jacques Demers made a pilgrimage to St. Anne de Beaupre and Roy made a trip to the trainer’s room, playing after a bruised shoulder supposedly had knocked him out for good. They played overtime every other night and kept everyone up way past their bedtimes, and they asked for a stick measurement that will go down as one of the greatest moments of foresight and fortune in Canadiens history.
But the best trip was the last, and Carbonneau made sure Denis Savard, in civvies and in everybody’s thoughts, had the first crack at the Cup. Then it made the rounds until it ended up with John LeClair, who gave it a big wet kiss.
“I’m treating it as well as possible,” LeClair said. “This is the Cup.”
This morning, the Cup kisses Montreal back.
You can see it tomorrow. Montreal has its parade back.
Two more for Rocky VIII
PUBLISHED IN THE GAZETTE ON JUNE 10, 1993
Paul DiPietro, who had found the start of the season a sentence, now was talking in paragraphs.
Here, after all, was a guy who didn’t even start the season – because of an ongoing bout with mononucleosis.
Or, as he put it: “I’d wake up in the morning and my eyes would be closed.”
Now, though, here he was with his seventh and eighth goals after playing in 17 of the Canadiens’ 20 playoff games – and is there a better way to end a season?
“The leaders on this team are so great,” he was saying after last night’s 4-1 finale, “they make me a better player. They make everybody on this team better players.
“This is pretty great,” said Rocky VIII. “The season starts without me and I’m figuring that maybe I wouldn’t play at all. Now, here I am on a Stanley Cup winner. Me. Paul DiPietro. I’m still dreaming.”
DiPietro was a nightmare to the Kings.
He scored the Canadiens’ first and last goals. He had three of their 29 shots. He took a regular turn with Gilbert Dionne and Gary Leeman.
“I’ve got to say this,” said Rocky VIII, “I make a few mistakes, but (Jacques) Demers kept coming back with me. A lot of other coaches would have sat me down, but not Jacques. He goes with four lines and that’s what helped us win, I guess.”