Best Moments in Stanley Cup History
The National Hockey League is celebrating its 100th year and boasting the oldest trophy in North American professional sports. Throughout the last century a lot of history has occurred on the ice, and a lot of legends have been born.
Here are a few of our favorite moments in Stanley Cup Playoff history.
New York Rangers End Their Drought
The New York Rangers were among the Original Six, i.e. one of the six teams who joined the NHL in its first 10 years. The league operated with only these six form 1942 to 1967, which makes the Rangers’ feat of not winning a Stanley Cup after 1940 an achievement in awfulness. However that all changed in 1994 when the long nightmare finally ended. It took some work as the Vancouver Canucks took them to seven games before they finally managed to snap the drought, leading to the iconic image of Mark Messier jumping up and down like a school-kid, having earlier scored the winning third goal. The rangers are now almost halfway through their next 54 year drought, and are patiently looking forward to 2048.
Colorado Avalanche Win One for the Mile High
Though you wouldn’t know it by the state of the team for most of this millennium, there was a time that the Colorado Avalanche were among the best teams in history. Denver had stolen the Quebec Nordiques following nearly three decades of mediocre play up north. Their first year as the Avs they brought a championship to Denver, a city which had been plagued by years of failure in the NBA, NFL, and had only recently acquired the soon-to-be disappointing Colorado Rockies baseball squad. But that first championship was only the appetizer. Not content to only snag a team from Canada, they proceeded to pick up the legendary Ray Bourque from the Boston Bruins, who was desperate to play for a good time. His leadership helped tip the scales, as the Avs skated to victory the following season against the New Jersey Devils, a former Denver team who probably had it coming.
Bobby Baun Wins the Game on a Broken Leg
Gordie Howe was a legend of hockey back in the 1960s, with a shot that could shatter a man’s leg–literally. In the 1964 finals, Howe’s Detroit Red Wings were one goal away from taking the series in game 6 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and he took a slapshot to try to seal it up. Bobby Baun wasn’t having it and dove after the puck which caught him in the ankle. Thought he was in immense pain, he returned to the game in overtime, scoring the winning goal and forcing a game 7. Still in incredible pain, he powered through to join the team on the ice for the final game, which the Leafs dominated 4-0. After the game, it was revealed that Baun’s ankle was broken and he had not only played on it, but blocked the opponent’s winning shot in the process and gone on to personally score the winning goal in OT. Maybe the team should try to get him back, they’ve been terrible ever since he left 45 years ago.
Known simply as “The Great One,” Wayne Gretzky is the undisputed best NHL player of all time. The Michael Jordan of hockey played from 1978 to 1999, during which time he got more assists, goals, and still holds 61 records today. But way back in 1984 his legend was still being written, and his Edmonton Oilers were about to run into the buzzsaw that was the New York Islander dynasty of the period. But the team was young and hungry, and they came back looking to take down the now four-peat defending champions–and take them down they did. Dismantling the team systematically in a five game series, with Gretzky leading the way as captain, the Islanders never recovered and have been mediocre (at best) ever since. He went on to lead the team to four more, and his legacy helped the team grab one more after the infamous trade that sent him to the Los Angeles Kings.