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Monday, May 29, 2017

Today In NHL History - Lemieux Boards Draper

On May 29th in 1996, Colorado Avalanche cheapshot Claude Lemieux checked Detroit Red Wings grinder Kris Draper face first into the boards in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals igniting a fierce rivalry between the teams that remains to this day.

The hit hospitalized Draper with a concussion, broken nose, fractured jaw, and shattered cheek and orbital bone requiring extensive facial reconstructive surgery, several stitches, and wiring shut his jaw.

Lemieux received a five minute major and match penalty to which the NHL added a two game suspension and $1000 fine. Colorado won the game 4-1 closing out the series that night 4-2 en route to their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance sweeping the Florida Panthers. Draper didn't return to hockey until midway through the following season.
That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Bourdon's Motorcycle Crash

On May 29th in 2008, Vancouver Canucks defenseman Luc Bourdon, the 10th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, died in a motorcycle crash when he collided with a semitrailer near his hometown in New Brunswick.

The accident shocked the hockey community, especially Kris Letang who missed Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals to attend Luc's funeral.


The Canucks honored Luc at their home opener against Calgary, presenting Luc's family with his last game worn jersey and screening a video tribute accompanied by a live performance of "Big League" by Tom Cochrane.

Vancouver shutout Calgary 6-0 with Bourdon's best friend Alex Burrows scoring twice and earning the game's first star. Burrows carried the momentum of that match into a 28 goal breakout season, acknowledging his fallen friend with a bow and arrow tribute from time to time.


Luc Bourdon, forever a Canuck.

That's today in NHL history.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Rematches

Since the Stanley Cup was first awarded to the NHL's best in 1926, only 10 times have the same two teams met in the Cup Final in consecutive years. Of those 10 meetings, the same team won both series 7 times and teams split 3 times. Put another way, the Cup champion has successfully defended its title in 7 of the 10 rematches (70%).

The chart below describes every consecutive Cup rematch by year.

Year       Matchup
1932   Toronto over New York*  
1933 New York* over Toronto  
1948 Toronto over Detroit
1949 Toronto over Detroit
1954 Detroit over Montreal
1955 Detroit over Montreal
1957 Montreal over Boston
1958 Montreal over Boston
1959 Montreal over Toronto
1960 Montreal over Toronto
1963 Toronto over Detroit
1964 Toronto over Detroit
1968 Montreal over St. Louis
1969 Montreal over St. Louis
1977 Montreal over Boston 
1978 Montreal over Boston   
1983 New York** over Edmonton     
1984 Edmonton over New York**
2008 Detroit over Pittsburgh
2009 Pittsburgh over Detroit

*   New York Rangers
** New York Islanders

Of the 9 teams (Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins) to compete in Stanley Cup Final rematches, all but two (Boston, St. Louis) have won at least one championship during a rematch series. Never have the same two teams met in more than two consecutive Stanley Cup Finals.

Though teams have enjoyed consecutive Stanley Cup wins (24 times) and suffered consecutive Stanley Cup losses (13 times) over the years, the rematch is a far rarer occurrence (10 times). 

With Chicago losing in the preliminary round and Tampa Bay ousted in the conference final of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs, there will be no rematch of last year's finalists in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

* See also NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Wins.
* See also NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Losses.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Today In NHL History - Gretzky Highsticks Gilmour

On May 27th in 1993, Wayne Gretzky cut Doug Gilmour for eight stitches with a high stick during overtime in Game 6 of the Campbell Conference Final. The unpenalized play left the Great One on the ice to score the winner moments later.


Referee Kerry Fraser's historic non-call, which haunts him and leagues of Leafs fans to this day, invited conspiracy chatter to Don Cherry's Coaches Corner with Torontonians claiming the NHL influenced officiating to ensure Los Angeles would advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.

NHL Director of Officiating Brian Lewis later spoke with HNIC host Ron MacLean to discuss the events surrounding the Game 6 non-call.

Gretzky collected a hat trick in Game 7 at Maple Leaf Gardens leading the Kings to a 5-4 win over the Maple Leafs and their franchise first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, which they lost 4-1 to the Montreal Canadiens.

That's today in NHL history.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Today In NHL History - Stevens Hits Lindros

On May 26th in 2000, New Jersey Devils defenseman Scott Stevens decimated the oft-injured Philadelphia Flyers forward Eric Lindros with an open ice hit midway through the first period of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.


The hit represents Lindros' final on-ice moment as a member of the Flyers as he was kept from skating for six months, missed the entire 2001 season, and was ultimately traded to the New York Rangers.

New Jersey beat Philadelphia 2-1 and went on to defeat the defending Cup champion Dallas Stars 4-2 in the Finals, hoisting their first Stanley Cup in 5 years. Stevens took the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

That's today in NHL history

* See also Today In NHL History - Stevens Hits Kozlov.
* See also Today In NHL History - Stevens Hits Kariya.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Today In NHL History - Boston Blackout

On May 24th in 1988, a transformer blowout blackened a fog-filled Boston Garden with 3:27 remaining in the middle frame of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and the Edmonton Oilers.
Deemed an Act of God, NHL president John Ziegler canceled the 3-3 match rescheduling it two nights later at Northlands Coliseum.

The Oilers won Game 4-A by a score of 6-3sweeping the Bruins en route to their 5th Stanley Cup in 7 years and setting a modern record for the fewest games needed to hoist the hardware (18), in what would be Wayne Gretzky's final game as an Edmonton Oiler.
That's today in NHL history.