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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Today In NHL History - Stevens Hits Kariya

On June 7th in 2003, defenseman Scott Stevens of the New Jersey Devils crushed Paul Kariya of the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals with an unpenalized late hit rendering the speedy winger motionless on the ice. Amazingly, Kariya returned to the game scoring a goal and finishing with three points and the first star in a 5-2 victory to force Game 7. Two nights later New Jersey won their third Stanley Cup marking the first Final since 1965 where the home team won every game.

The hit ranks #2 on SportsCentre's top 10 Stevens hits of all-time, bested only by his hit on Eric Lindros in Game 7 of the 2000 Conference Final. That's today in NHL history.

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

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Today In NHL History - Cam Neely

On June 6th in 1965, Cameron Michael Neely was born in Comox, BC. Blessed with the rare trifecta of size, talent and toughness, Bam-Bam Cam became the NHL's prototypical power forward.
Selected 9th overall in the 1983 Draft, Neely spent three seasons with the Canucks before Harry Neale sent him to Boston on his 21st birthday with the club's 1987 first round draft pick (Glen Wesley) in exchange for Barry Pederson, the worst trade in franchise history.

Neely would collect 395 goals (395G/299A/694Pts) in his 726 game 13 year career, including three 50+ goal seasons ('90, '91, '94), placing him 15th overall in goals per game. Despite his Masterton winning perseverance (1994), Neely never recovered from a pair of Ulf Samuelsson-induced injuries in the 1991 Wales Conference Finals, finally buckling at the age of 31. In 2005, Neely was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, a year after having his number 8 jersey raised to the Boston rafters. Today he serves as Vice President of the Bruins, a position held since 2007. Away from the rink Neely focuses on his Foundation, helping cancer patients battle the disease that took his parents, and appears in TV (Cheers, Rescue Me) and film (Dumb & Dumber, Me, Myself and Irene), most famously as the Farrelly brothers' recurring tough guy Sea Bass. That's today in NHL history.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Today In NHL History - McSorley's Illegal Stick

On June 3rd in 1993, the Los Angeles Kings were two minutes away from taking a 2-0 series lead against the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Finals when coach Jacques Demers called for a measurement of Marty McSorley's stick. Kerry Fraser described it as one of his easiest calls: "For any player to go into the third period in a Stanley Cup final with an illegal stick was, to my mind, absolutely asinine. The stick was so illegal, I mean, I just looked at it and said holy smokes, we won't need the gauge for this one."

With McSorley in the box and Patrick Roy on the bench, Eric Desjardins scored the tying goal on a two man advantage with 1:13 remaining in regulation. Desjardins completed the hat trick in overtime sending the series to the Great Western Forum tied 1-1. Melrose's Kings lost the next two games in overtime, surrendering the series 4-1 six days later at the Montreal Forum and denying the Great One his California crowning.

McSorley revisited the mishap 19 years later (beginning at the 2:45 mark below) prior to the Kings' first return to the Stanley Cup Final, acknowledging the illegality of his stick and accusing the Canadiens of foul play in measuring visiting players' sticks prior to the game. Amazingly, Marty admits to playing subsequent games in the Final with sticks identical to the illegal one that so dearly cost his team in Game 2.

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Today In NHL History - Jason Spezza's Illegal Stick.
* See also Today In NHL History - Willie Mitchell's Long Stick.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Today In NHL History - Chris Pronger's Own Goal

On June 2nd in 2007, Anaheim Ducks defenseman Chris Pronger scored an own goal on Jean-Sebastien Giguere late in the second period of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, putting Ottawa ahead 4-3, their first lead of the evening. Pronger's own goal, created by the forecheck of Senators forward Dean McAmmond, held up as the game-winner in Ottawa's 5-3 win. Moments later Pronger exacted revenge on McAmmond with an vicious headshot, putting him out of the series that Anaheim eventually won 4-1. That's today in NHL history.

* See also Today In NHL History - Pronger Hits McAmmond.

Today In NHL History - Pronger Hits McAmmond

On June 2nd in 2007, Anaheim Ducks defenseman Chris Pronger delivered a devastating elbow to the head of Ottawa Senators forward Dean McAmmond in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final rendering McAmmond unconscious. The third period cheapshot was likely in response to Pronger's second period own goal that was created by and credited to McAmmond. Pronger was assessed his 7th career suspension for the unpenalized play, earning the 3rd ever suspension during a Cup Final (Fischer 2002, Nieminen 2004) and marking the 3rd time a player was suspended twice during the same postseason (Lemieux 1996, Nieminen 2004).

Ottawa beat Anaheim that night 5-3 but Pronger returned after his one game suspension to win the Stanley Cup in Game 5. McAmmond missed the remainder of the series owing to a concussion suffered on the play.

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Today In NHL History - Chris Pronger's Own Goal.
* See also Today In NHL History - Downie Hits McAmmond.

Today In NHL History - Larry Robinson

On June 2nd in 1951, Larry Clark Robinson was born in Winchester, Ontario. Blessed with exceptional size, strength and skill, Big Bird patrolled the blueline for 20 seasons in the NHL with Montreal (17) and Los Angeles (3) scoring, banging and scrapping as he saw fit.
Selected 20th overall in the 1971 NHL Entry Draft, Robinson earned six Stanley Cup wins ('73, '76, '77, '78, '79, '86), two Norris nods ('77, '80) and a Conn Smythe ('78). In addition to his 958 regular season (208G/750A) and 144 playoff points (28G/116A), Robinson holds NHL records for plus-minus (+730) and most consecutive post season appearances (20). Stepping behind the bench for New Jersey ('93-'95, '00-'03, '05) and Los Angeles ('95-'99), Larry locked lips with Lord Stanley's Mug three more times, twice as an assistant ('95, '03) and once as a head coach ('00). He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995 and had his number 19 retired by Montreal in 2007. That's today in NHL history.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Today In NHL History - Paul Coffey

On June 1st in 1961, Paul Douglas Coffey was born in Toronto, Ontario. Selected 6th overall by Edmonton in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft, the slick skating blueliner spent seven seasons with the Oilers before suiting up for eight others (PIT, LAK, DET, HAR, PHI, CHI, CAR, BOS).

During his 21 year career, Coffey posted five 100+ point campaigns (1984, 1985, 1986, 1989, 1990), two 40+ goal seasons (1984, 1986), and four 80+ assist (1984, 1985, 1986, 1989) efforts. The three time Norris winner (1985, 1986, 1995) also made seven trips to the Stanley Cup Final, winning four times (1984, 1985, 1987, 1991) and losing thrice (1983, 1995, 1997). With 1531 points (396G/1135A) in 1409 games, Coffey sits 13th in points (behind Ray Bourque) and 28th in points per game (behind Bobby Orr), and still holds defense records for goals in a season (48 goals in 1986), points in a playoff (37 points in 1985), and points in a game (8 points on March 14, 1986).When he wasn't putting up points Coffey amassed penalty minutes, sharing the distinction with Bobby Orr of being the only two defensemen in NHL history to collect 100 points and 100 penalty minutes in the same NHL season three different times (1984, 1986, 1989).

Coffey was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004 and had his number 7 retired in Edmonton the following year in 2005. That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Today In NHL History - Malkin Fights Zetterberg

On May 31st in 2009, with his team trailing 3-1 in the closing seconds of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins attacked Detroit Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg.Refs assessed 17 and 5 sin bin minutes, respectively, of which each served only 19 seconds. Despite Malkin's instigator penalty, Colin Campbell refused to enforce Rule 47.22 mandating an automatic one game suspension for such an act in the final five minutes, electing instead to exercise his broad right to rescind.

Thus, rather than sitting for suckering the 2008 Conn Smythe winner, the 2009 Conn Smythe winner-to-be returned in Game 3 to set up three goals en route to a 4-2 win. Absent Malkin's helpers, Detroit may have won Game 3, taking a 3-0 series lead and clinching consecutive Cup wins. Instead, Pittsburgh cut Detroit's series lead in half and won in 7.

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Carrying Over Penalties In NHL Playoffs.
* See also Today In NHL History - Malkin Boards Mitchell.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

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 27, 2018

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.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

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.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

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.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines

The time-honored tradition of NHL playoff combatants shaking hands upon the conclusion of a series is among the greatest displays of sportsmanship in professional team sports today. Seconds after the horn sounds at the end of a series, players and coaches from both teams convene at center ice to celebrate each other's efforts.

The videos below capture the final moments of play in each series-ending game to date in the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs along with the ensuing traditional team handshake line, sorted by round and series end date.

FIRST ROUND

The Golden Knights eliminated the Kings in Game 4 on April 17, 2018.

The Sharks eliminated the Ducks in Game 4 on April 18, 2018.

The Jets eliminated the Wild in Game 5 on April 20, 2018.

The Lightning eliminated the Devils in Game 5 on April 21, 2018.

The Penguins eliminated the Flyers in Game 6 on April 22, 2018.

The Predators eliminated the Avalanche in Game 6 on April 22, 2018.

The Capitals eliminated the Blue Jackets in Game 6 on April 23, 2018.

The Bruins eliminated the Leafs in Game 7 on April 25, 2018.

SECOND ROUND

The Lightning eliminated the Bruins in Game 5 on May 6, 2018.

The Golden Knights eliminated the Sharks in Game 6 on May 6, 2018.

The Capitals eliminated the Penguins in Game 6 on May 7, 2018.

The Jets eliminated the Predators in Game 7 on May 10, 2018.

THIRD ROUND

The Golden Knights eliminated the Jets in Game 5 on May 20, 2018.

The Capitals eliminated the Lightning in Game 7 on May 23, 2018.

In an age of results reigning over respect, it's encouraging to see such sportsmanship in professional sport, albeit with notable exceptions (Milan Lucic 2014), abstention (Martin Brodeur 2008Derek Boogaard 2007, Chris Chelios 2007Darren McCarty 1997, Ed Belfour 1995Billy Smith, Gerry Cheevers) and disdain (Dino Ciccarelli 1996) in recent years.

* See also 2017 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.
* See also 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.
* See also 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.
* See also 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Today In NHL History - Bergeron Saves Goal

On May 22nd in 2010, Montreal Canadiens blueliner Marc-Andre Bergeron saved an empty net goal with 2 minutes remaining in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Flyers sophomore forward Claude Giroux found the Habs empty net 36 seconds later to secure a 3-0 win. Philadelphia won the series 4-1.

That's today in NHL history.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Today In NHL History - Buffalo Sabres Bat Attack

On May 20th in 1975, Buffalo Sabres center Jim Lorentz slayed a boisterous bat during a fog-filled Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals at The Aud. The incident marks the only known animal killing by a player during a NHL game.

Philadelphia Flyers forward Rick MacLeish kindly collected the deceased bat from the faceoff circle, sparing the linesman of the indiscretion, disposing it in the visitors penalty box then occupied by his teammate.

While birds have famously found their way onto the field of play for several sports (baseball, tennis, football, golf, hockey) over the years, often with unfortunate outcomes, dive-bombing bats are rare.

Buffalo won 5-4 in overtime but lost the series 4-2 to Philadelphia.

That's today in NHL history.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Today In NHL History - Preakness Trumps Playoffs

On May 19th in 2007, NBC abandoned overtime in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals in favor of two hours of pre-race Preakness Stakes coverage, blacking out the Ottawa Senators 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres, clinching their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since 1927.

The Heidi Game moment resulted in a ratings boost from 1.5 during the final half-hour of hockey to 3.8, 4.8 and 7.5 for the next three increments of pre-race coverage. An hour after Alfredsson's winner, Curlin won by a head at Pimlico running a 1:53.46.

That's today in NHL history.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Today In NHL History - Canucks Fan Flashes Eager

On May 18th in 2011, a proud Vancouver Canucks fan hoisted her Henrik Sedin jersey to flash her breasts for San Jose Sharks penalized enforcer Ben Eager in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final.


Though worthy of honorable mention, Tits McGee's pierced twins were ultimately upstaged by Daniel and Henrik who combined for 5 points in a 7-3 win, giving the Canucks a 2-0 series lead largely owing to Eager's cheapshots and chatter which earned him 20 minutes in penalties.

Eager was ejected from the match 24 seconds after this penalty expired and subsequently scratched from the remainder of the series, never again skating in a NHL playoff game.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Today In NHL History - Gino Odjick Fights Blues

On May 17th in 1995, Gino Odjick of the Vancouver Canucks attacked all five St. Louis Blues skaters in the third period of Game 6 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in response to Glenn Anderson spearing Pavel Bure in the eye earlier in the previous game.

The Canucks lost the game that night 8-2 but won the series 4-3.

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Today In NHL History - Gino Odjick.
* See also Today In NHL History - Gino Odjick Runs Hasek.
* See also Today In NHL History - Odjick's Penalty Shot.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Today In NHL History - Pronger Elbows Holmstrom

On May 15th in 2007, Anaheim Ducks notorious blueliner Chris Pronger delivered a vicious elbow to the head of Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Holmstrom midway through Game 3 of the Western Conference Final.

Pronger escaped penalty on the play but was subsequently suspended one game for the infraction. Defensive partner Rob Niedermayer collected a five minute boarding major for his role in the Norris sandwich.

Holmstrom returned after receiving 13 stitches, finishing the game with three points in a 5-0 win over the Ducks. Anaheim eventually dispatched Detroit 4-2 and went on to claim their first Stanley Cup.

That's today in NHL history.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Today In NHL History - Montreal Pregame Brawl

On May 14th in 1987, heavyweight Ed Hospodar of the Philadelphia Flyers incited a pregame brawl at the Forum attacking Montreal Canadiens sophomore Claude Lemieux prior to Game 6 of the Wales Conference Final.

Tiring of Lemieux and Shayne Corson's superstitious ritual of firing a puck into the opponent's empty net at the end of the warmup skate, Hospodar and Chico Resch returned to the ice to send a message.

Resch recalls: "I threw my stick to try and knock the puck away from him [Lemieux]. I was still in the mood that this was just fooling around. Hospodar took a different approach and he charged at Lemieux and he jumped him. I skated over and yelled at him, 'Ed, what are you doing?' And Lemieux looked up and said, 'Yeah Ed, what are you doing?'"

Et l'affaire en fran├žais.

The 11 minutes of ref-less mayhem delayed the faceoff by 17 minutes and drew $24,500 in fines. No penalties were assessed though Hospodar was suspended for the remainder of the playoffs. The Flyers advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals that night winning the game 4-3 and series 4-2.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Sylvain Lefebvre's Own Goal

On May 14th in 1994, Toronto Maple Leafs blueliner Sylvain Lefebvre scored an own goal with 3 seconds remaining in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinal against the San Jose Sharks when his clearing attempt struck teammate Peter Zezel and deflected past Felix Potvin.

Luckily for Lefebvre, the Leafs led 4-1 prior to the miscue and held on to win Game 7 by a score of 4-2, advancing to the Western Conference Final where they were eliminated by the Vancouver Canucks 4-1.

That's today in NHL history.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

NHL Presidents' Trophy Winners & Playoff Success

The Presidents' Trophy is awarded annually to the team with the best NHL regular season record. Since its inaugural offering in 1986, it has been awarded 31 times to 15 different franchises. The recipient is guaranteed home ice advantage for all four rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

Unfortunately for recipients, regular season success and home-ice advantage does not always translate in postseason success. The chart below shows each Presidents' Trophy winner by year and playoff result.

Year         Presidents' Trophy            Playoff Result
2018 Nashville Predators Lost Quarterfinal (Winnipeg)
2017 Washington Capitals Lost Quarterfinal (Pittsburgh)
2016 Washington Capitals Lost Quarterfinal (Pittsburgh)
2015 New York Rangers Lost Semifinal (Tampa Bay)
2014 Boston Bruins Lost Quarterfinal (Montreal)
2013 Chicago Blackhawks Won Stanley Cup
2012 Vancouver Canucks Lost Preliminary (Los Angeles)
2011 Vancouver Canucks Lost Final (Boston)
2010 Washington Capitals Lost Preliminary (Montreal)
2009 San Jose Sharks Lost Preliminary (Anaheim)
2008 Detroit Red Wings Won Stanley Cup
2007 Buffalo Sabres Lost Semifinal (Ottawa)
2006 Detroit Red Wings Lost Preliminary (Edmonton)
2004 Detroit Red Wings Lost Quarterfinal (Calgary)
2003 Ottawa Senators Lost Semifinal (New Jersey)
2002 Detroit Red Wings Won Stanley Cup
2001 Colorado Avalanche Won Stanley Cup
2000 St. Louis Blues Lost Preliminary (San Jose)
1999 Dallas Stars Won Stanley Cup
1998 Dallas Stars Lost Semifinal (Detroit)
1997 Colorado Avalanche Lost Semifinal (Detroit)
1996 Detroit Red Wings Lost Semifinal (Colorado)
1995 Detroit Red Wings Lost Final (New Jersey)
1994 New York Rangers Won Stanley Cup
1993 Pittsburgh Penguins Lost Quarterfinal (New York)*
1992 New York Rangers Lost Quarterfinal (Pittsburgh)
1991 Chicago Blackhawks Lost Preliminary (Minnesota)^
1990 Boston Bruins Lost Final (Edmonton)
1989 Calgary Flames Won Stanley Cup
1988 Calgary Flames Lost Quarterfinal (Edmonton)
1987 Edmonton Oilers Won Stanley Cup
1986 Edmonton Oilers Lost Quarterfinal (Calgary)

* New York Islanders
^ Minnesota North Stars

Of the 32 recipients through 2018, eleven (35%) qualified for the Final and eight (25%) won the Stanley Cup (1987, 1989, 1994, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2008, 2013). Of the 20 others, six (19%) were ousted in the Preliminary round (1991, 2000, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012), nine (27%) were eliminated in the Quarterfinal (1986, 1988, 1992, 1993, 2004, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018), and six (19%) stalled in the Semifinal (1996, 1997, 1998, 2003, 2007, 2015).

Only once in the past ten seasons has a Presidents' Trophy winner won the Stanley Cup (Chicago 2013). In fact, three teams during this span saw their season end in the opening round (San Jose 2009, Washington 2010, Vancouver 2012). Interesting, only three times in the prior 24 seasons did winners suffer such a fate (Chicago 1991, St. Louis 2000, Detroit 2006).

Earlier this week the Presidents' Trophy winning Nashville Predators had their season ended by the Winnipeg Jets in Game 7 of the Quarterfinals.  Once again, the regular season's best fails to achieve Stanley Cup success.

* See also NHL Playoff First Round Upsets.
* See also NHL Playoff Seeding And Stanley Cup Wins.
* See also Presidents' Winners & Defending Cup Champions.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Today In NHL History - Hextall Hammers Chelios

On May 11th in 1989, Philadelphia Flyers ferocious goalie Ron Hextall attacked Montreal Canadiens defenseman Chris Chelios after play was whistled offside trailing 4-2 with 1:37 left in Game 6 of the Wales Conference Finals.

The 1987 Vezina and Conn Smythe winner come single season goaltender penalty minute record holder (113 minutes in 1989) pounced in response to Chelios' unpenalized elbow on Brian Propp ten days earlier.

Hextall received a five-minute major and match penalty coupled with a 12 game suspension commencing the following season. The Canadiens eliminated the Flyers that night winning the game and series 4-2.

Asked 20 years later if the pair had made amends, Hextall explained:

"No, we’re not friends. I've talked to him a few times. You know what, honestly, when the game's over, when your career’s over, you look back at guys like that and you respect them more than anyone else because he is a competitor. He’s one of the top competitors in the league. I look at a guy like that, would I like to have played with him? Damn right I would have. Those guys that are competitive, there's a respect there even if you can’t stand the guy. There's a respect there that never goes away. When I was standing at the bench in Detroit two years ago when we were in town who comes over to talk to me? He does. It’s in the past."
That's today in NHL history.

Presidents' Winners & Defending Cup Champions

Since the inaugural offering of the Presidents' Trophy in 1986, awarded to the team with the best regular season record, its recipient has drawn the defending Stanley Cup champions eight times in the subsequent postseason. The chart below shows each meeting by year, matchup and outcome.

Year        
Matchup                                                                  
Outcome
1988 Edmonton Oilersover Calgary Flames
4-0 (Q)
1992 Pittsburgh Penguinsover New York Rangers
4-2 (Q)
1998 Detroit Red Wingsover Dallas Stars 
4-2 (S)
2001 Colorado Avalanche over New Jersey Devils*
4-3 (F)
2002 Detroit Red Wings over Colorado Avalanche*
4-3 (S)
2011 Vancouver Canucks over Chicago Blackhawks*
4-3 (P)
2013 Chicago Blackhawks over Los Angeles Kings*
4-1 (S)
2017 Pittsburgh Penguinsover Washington Capitals 
4-3 (Q)

*  Defending Stanley Cup Champion
(P = Preliminary, Q = Quarterfinal, S = Semifinal, F = Final)

In the first three postseason meetings between the regular season's best and defending league champs, the prior year's Stanley Cup champions won (1988, 1992, 1998) and went on to hoist consecutive Stanley Cups. The next four matchups saw the Presidents' Trophy winners oust the defending Cup champions (2001, 2002, 20112013) and win the Stanley Cup in every instance but one (Vancouver 2011).

The most recent clash occurred in the Quarterfinal of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when the 2016 Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Presidents' Trophy winning Washington Capitals., snapping the previous streak of Presidents' Trophy winners advancing.

This meeting marks the 10th playoff series between the clubs, with Pittsburgh holding a 9-1 advantage and a 3-0 record during the Crosby-Ovechkin era. It's also the first time that the top two regular season finishers have met in the playoffs since 2001 when Colorado met New Jersey in the Stanley Cup Final.

The only opportunity for the 2018 Presidents' Trophy winning Nashville Predators to meet the 2017 Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins would have been to rematch in the Stanley Cup Final. Neither made it out of the second round of the playoffs.

* See also NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Wins.
* See also NHL Playoff Seeding And Stanley Cup Wins.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff First Round Upsets. * See also NHL Presidents' Trophy Winners & Playoff Success.