The Canadiens were supposed to open the NHL regular season tonight at the Bell Centre against the Ottawa Senators.
But with no end to the lockout in sight, we’ll let Canadiens fans relive the 1992-93 season when the Habs won the last of their 24 Stanley Cups by posting game stories from that season.
The Canadiens opened the 1992-93 campaign on a winning note on Oct. 6, beating the Whalers 5-1 in Hartford. Here’s the story that appeared in the next day’s Gazette:
(Photo by John Mahoney/The Gazette)
Habs romp, Skrudland hurt; Knee injury takes edge off win in opener
HARTFORD – Do things get any worse than this for Brian Skrudland?
The snake-bit centreman is returning to Montreal today for a close look at what management people are calling a sprained right knee. History dictates it could be worse when it’s considered that injuries have cost Skrudland more than a season (82 games) in his last three.
Skrudland was in and out of this season start, won 5-1 by the Canadiens in what really amounted to no time at all. First shift and thwack! he’s struck on the knee by a chap named Mark Janssens, all 6-foot-4, 220 pounds of him.
Skrudland appeared to be in a great deal of pain after the game. He left the dressing room on crutches.
“It was knee-to-knee with the other guy (Janssens),” Skrudland said. “I could feel pain as soon as we hit.”
Later in the period, Janssens had several Canadiens players climbing up his trunk when he slashed at Patrick Roy during a mini- scrum in the goaltender’s area.
Knee and facial injuries, along with an unsettling series of dizzy spells, held Skrudland to only 42 games last season. His output: three goals and three assists, which is what he may have had in mind going into the game, when he mentioned to a reporter:
“Are you ready for my best season ever?”
Reporter: “Guess so.”
Skrudland: “I know one thing: right now I’m tied with Wayne Gretzky in points.”
Skrudland: “I hope I’m ahead of him when he comes back!”
Skrudland will know more today about when he comes back.
His injury, needless to say, was the only low point on what surely was a gratifying night for Canadiens general manager Serge Savard. After all, he’d been looking for a start like this from a team he’s learned to like.
“I won’t say I’m too happy with the way we’ve played in our last few exhibitions, particularly against Quebec,” said Savard, “but I like my team. (Brian) Bellows didn’t have a good camp, but I don’t worry about guys like him. (Vincent) Damphousse … everything I hear about him is that he’s got character. I’m not worried about him, either.”
Bellows scored one of the goals – a darting, short shot 45 seconds into the second period, which followed Kirk Muller’s first-period goal. Denis Savard scored midway through the final period, while Murray Craven spoiled Patrick Roy’s bid for his 19th career shutout with fewer than five minutes remaining. J.J. Daigneault and Damphousse also scored.
The game wasn’t nearly that close. It should have been over as early as the first period when the Canadiens outshot the Whalers 15- 5. It could have been locked up in the second when five shots by Bellows produced a 16-7 margin in shots. It was over when Savard added the Canadiens’ third goal.
What kept the Whalers alive until the third?
Ah yes, Sean Burke, where have you been so long?
The one-time New Jersey Devils goaltender was exceptional from start to finish, with 38 stops. He had no chance on the first three goals, although he’d like another crack at Daigneault’s late goal. He stopped a flood of others after Muller had beaten him fewer than two minutes into the game.
“It was a nice way to start the season,” said Muller, who was the Canadiens’ best player. “I guess you could say I had a lot of net to shoot at.”
Muller guesses right, but Whalers goaltender Burke kept his guessing to a minimum. He was formidable on Savard during a power play and on Bellows during the Canadiens’ dominant first period.
“I didn’t have any trouble getting back into the game after missing all of last year,” said Burke. “I’m pleased with the way I played.”
No doubt, so are the Whalers, but what matters is that general manager Savard was properly delighted with his team’s first outing. He must have been even happier when referee Mike McGeough disallowed a Hartford goal by Andrew Cassels in the second minute of the third period, in the wake of what commonly is known as a quick whistle. The puck was loose on the other side of Roy, while McGeough was against the boards.
McGeough disallowed another late in the period when he ruled the puck was kicked by John Cullen beyond Roy. The reality is that Eric Desjardins may have contributed mostly to the kick.
1. Kirk Muller, Canadiens
2. Brian Bellows, Canadiens
3. Sean Burke, Whalers