For the last eight Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup wins, from 1971 to 1993, I managed to save the front pages and laminate them. (Although one, from 1977, is an inner page).
From time to time I’ll talk a little about these wins, and I’ll use some quotes, but I won’t copy verbatim anything from the coverage because writers don’t like that and I don’t blame them. And the last thing I want is a writer or newspaper mad at me.
Maybe I’ll start with 1993.
“CUP COMES HOME” blared the headline, and little did we know that the Cup just a year later was going to run away from home and stay away. Stanley come home. We miss you.
It was Montreal’s 24th championship in 1993, and it was done on the shoulders of Patrick Roy, who would be named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the most valuable player in the playoffs. Patrick gave us 16 wins and just four losses along the way, and to think if he hadn’t become upset with Mario Tremblay in late 1995 and stormed off the ice saying it was his last game in Montreal, we might have racked up several more mugs in the 1990’s. (Roy had allowed nine goals against Detroit and Tremblay took his time pulling him, which Roy found unacceptable).
But all was peace and love in 1993, like it was when Roy was in the nets for the 1986 Cup win. Michael Farber, in the Gazette coverage, wrote, “You can sum up the Stanley Cup in almost any two words you choose: Patrick Roy. The best. The Canadiens.”
Montreal won that year by beating the Los Angeles Kings 4-1 and claiming the title in just five games. L.A.’s Wayne Gretzky was disappointed. “I said before the playoffs began that I want to go out on a high. 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.” (Kings owner Bruce McNall put a blank piece of paper in front of Gretzky and told him to fill it in. The Great One would remain an LA King for another three seasons before heading to St. Louis and then the Rangers).
But back to the more important stuff – the Habs winning. Montreal’s Lyle Odelein emotionally stated, “You try to take the moment and just hold on to it. 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 to do what I did – skate with the Stanley Cup. I was so pumped up I could have lifted the Cup to the sky.”
Stephan Lebeau recalled seeing the Cup in the garage at the Forum when Calgary won it in 1989, but he didn’t touch it. “You don’t touch what isn’t yours. I didn’t want to touch it until we won it.”
To reach the finals, the Canadiens had taken out the Nordiques 4 games to 2, Buffalo 4 straight, and the New York Islanders 4 games to one. Hab haters claimed that Montreal had an easy time of it because two stronger teams, Boston and Pittsburgh, had both been eliminated, but don’t believe these naysayers. They’re a bunch of wankers.
Of course there was some rioting in the streets of Montreal. Thousands smashed windows, overturned cars, looted, and in general behaved like morons. I’m really hoping that next spring when the Habs finally get their hands on Lord Stanley once again, that fans don’t misbehave. It’s an opportunity to show the hockey world just how mature Habs fans are.