With the first round of the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs coming to an end this week, here are a few historical tidbits and oddities relating to the pursuit of the Cup. Enjoy these little looks back at the past, and your comments are welcome!
Playing on the brink of elimination NINE times in a single playoff year ...!!
An incredible nine times over three rounds during the 1975 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the New York Islanders were forced to play games which, if they had lost, would have eliminated them from the further competition. Here's how that happened....
After winning just a dozen games in their first NHL season in 1972-73, and 19 in their second, the third-year New York Islanders surprised the hockey world in 1974-75 with a 32-point improvement and making the playoffs in just its third season with 88 points. The third year club’s first play-off run proved to be even more remarkable for their utter brinksmanship as over a period of a month the club played in no fewer than nine games in which they faced elimination from the play-offs with a loss. After edging the New York Rangers at MSG in the first game of the best-or-three preliminary round, the Islanders came back to earth in game two when the Broadway Blueshirts waxed them, 8-3. On April 11th, 1975, the Isles thus faced elimination for the first time but staved it off with when J.P. Parise scored just :11 into OT for a 4-3 win to end the series.
1974-75 New York Islanders
The Islanders dropped the first three games of the best-of-seven Quarter Finals to the Pittsburgh Penguins before then winning four straight including a 1-0 shutout by Chico Resch in game seven in Pittsburgh on April 26th in the fifth “no tomorrow” game the club had played in just fifteen days! The Islanders’ next opponents would be much tougher, however, as their trip to the Semi Finals pitted them against the defending Stanley Cup champion Philadelphia Flyers. Again the Isles dropped the first three games of the series, losing 4-0, 5-4 in OT, and 1-0, before making a third backs-to-the-wall series comeback. Jude Drouin began it with a goal 1:53 into OT in game four for a 4-3 win on May 7th followed by a surprising 5-1 victory in Philadelphia the next night, and a nail biting 2-1 third straight win in Long Island on May 11th. The Isles’ remarkable run finally came to an end on May 13th, however, as they faced elimination for the ninth time in 33 days as the Flyers brought in Kate Smith to sing “God Bless America” in person. Even though Islanders’ captain Ed Westfall shook her hand and presented her flowers on the ice after she sang, it was not enough as the Flyers prevailed, 4-1, and went on to win their second consecutive Stanley Cup two weeks later over the Buffalo Sabres.
The long -- and short -- of Stanley Cup shutout streaks...
In the 1930 Stanley Cup playoffs Montreal Canadiens' Hall of Fame goaltender George Hainsworth set the now still standing 82-year old record for the longest shut-out streak in post season play at 270:08. It began on March 28th after he gave up a goal to Murray Murdoch of the New York Rangers at 15:34 of the first period of game one of a best-of-three semi final series, the only goal he allowed in the tilt which was won by the Habs, 2-1, at 8:52 of the fourth overtime. Hainsworth entered the second game of the set with a 113:18 shutout streak which he extended to 173:18 on March 30 in a 2-0 shut-out which sent the Habs on to a best-of-three final series with the defending Champion Boston Bruins. Hainsworth pitched another shut-out in the first game of that series which Montreal won, 3-0, and held Boston off the board in game two until the Bruins' Eddie Shore finally ended it at 16:50 of the second period to give Hainsworth a remarkable four-and-a-half hours of playing time without allowing a goal. The Canadiens eventually won the game, 4-3, to capture the Cup.
George Hainsworth, Glenn Hall and Brian Elliott
Glenn Hall, who is also a Hall of Famer, has the "distinction" of first setting the record for shortest "shut-out streak" in play-off history at just five seconds. On April 11, 1965, Hall was beaten twice by Detroit's Norm Ullman at 17:35 and 17:40 of the second period of game five of their semi final series with Hall's Chicago Blackhawks on their way to a 4-2 win and three-games-to-two lead in the best of seven series. Hall shut Detroit out, 4-0, in game six, however, and then eliminated the Red Wings in game seven with a 4-2 victory at the Olympia. Hall and the Blackhawks then took the Montreal Canadiens to a seventh game in the finals but lost to the Habs, 4-0, in the title game.
It took 53 years for Hall's "mark" to be tied which happened just a week ago in game three of the first round Metro Division series between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins at the Wells Fargo Center on April 15, 2018. With the Pens leading the game, 2-1, Evgeni Malkin beat Flyers goalie Brian Elliott for a power play goal at 6:48. The Pens' captain Sidney Crosby then beat Flyers' captain Claude Giroux on the ensuing center ice face off and on a set play fed defenseman Brian Dumoulin with a perfect pass who then beat Elliott with a wrist shot at 6:53 to extend the Penguins' lead to 4-1.
So just how many games does it take to be eligible to get your name on the Cup?
When...orif...a player ever gets a chance, let alone wins, a Stanley Cup championship sometimes has very little to do with how good a player he is as an individual because the Cup is, of course, really a team prize. Some players -- such as left wing Chris Hayes of the Boston Bruins, left wing Esa Tikkanen of the Edmonton Oilers, and left wing Bruce Cowick of the Philadelphia Flyers -- actually got their names engraved on the Cup even before ever appearing in a single NHL regular season game, while the names of some others -- such as Hall of Fame Honored Members Jean Ratelle, Mike Gartner, and Brad Park -- can be found nowhere at all on the trophy despite their having played in a combined total of 3,825 NHL regular season and 406 play-off games in their 53 seasons of play in the NHL.
Chris Hayes, Bruce Cowick, Esa Tikkanen
Achieving hockey's ultimate goal often requires luck as well as skill, and that “Stanley Cup Luck” smiled in spades on rookies Hayes, Tikkanen, and Cowick. Of these former Boston Bruin left winger Chris Hayes was perhaps the “luckiest” of all! After three years with the OHL Oshawa Generals (1964-67) where he was a teammate of Bobby Orr and helped the Generals reach the Memorial Cup finals in 1966 (losing to the Edmonton Oil Kings in six games), Hayes went on to play four more years (1967-71) of amateur hockey at Loyola College in Montreal before signing with the Boston Bruins as a free agent in 1971. As a 25-year old rookie, Hayes played with the Bruins' CHL Oklahoma City Blazers farm club in 1971-72, but when that club was knocked out of the play-offs he was called up to the Bruins with whom he dressed in a single game in the Stanley Cup finals against the New York Rangers, a series which Boston won in six games to capture their second Cup in three years. Hayes remained in Boston the next season, but did so playing for the AHL Boston Braves and saw no further action with the Bruins. After one more full pro season played with the CHL Albuquerque Six-Guns in 1973-74, Hayes missed the entire following season because of injuries which forced his retirement after playing in just four games with the NAHL Mohawk Valley Comets in 1975-76. With his one NHL appearance coming in the 1972 finals with the Cup winning Bruins, however, Hayes became eligible to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup for that single NHL career game, however for some unexplained reason both he and teammate Gerry Peters were left off the Cup although their names were included in the winning roster listing.
Esa Tikkanen traveled a somewhat different route to his first of five Stanley Cups. The Oilers drafted the feisty Finn in the fourth round of the 1983 and he joined the team during the 1985 Stanley Cup finals against the Philadelphia Flyers straight from representing Finland in the World Championship Tournament in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Although he had no points and one minor penalty in three games, that was good enough to get his name on the Cup because he had played in a game in the finals. Over the next eight years he won three more Cups with Edmonton with whom he played until March 17, 1993, when he became another one of many Oilers to be traded to the New York Rangers over the years, and in 1994 he got his name on the Stanley Cup for the fifth time. By the time he retired in 2001, Tikkanen had appeared in 186 Stanley Cup games in 13 play-off years collecting 72 goals (eleven of which were game winners) and 60 assists for 132 points with Edmonton, New York, St. Louis, Vancouver, and Washington. He also appeared in a total of 877 regular season games in his career...but had yet to appear in a single one of those until after winning his first Cup in 1985.
Winger Bruce Cowick won his Stanley Cup in 1974 with the Philadelphia Flyers, a team, however, with which he would never play in regular season game. Philadelphia had acquired Cowick in May, 1973, from the WHL San Diego Gulls for four players including Bob Currier, the player that the Flyers had taken 6th overeall in the first round of the 1969 NHL Draft before taking Hall of Famer Bob Clarke in the second round (17th overall) of the same lottery. Cowick spent the 1973-74 season with the AHL Richmond Robins with which he had a modest 21 points. When the Robins were eliminated in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs, however, Cowick was among the players called up to the Flyers as spares. He unexpectedly got his big break on May 2nd when when Fred Shero inserted the winger in the sixth game of the Semi-Final series with the New York Rangers to provide some fourth line muscle and he went on to appear in the club's remaining eight post season games (no points, 2 shots, 9 PIM). Less than a month after the he helped the Flyers skate the Cup around the Spectrum ice after Bernie Parent shut out the Boston Bruins on May 19 by a 1-0 score, Cowick was claimed by the nascent Washington Capitals in Expansion Draft on June 12, 1974. In 65 games with the woeful Caps in 1974-75 he had just eleven points -- and was -42 -- before being claimed on waivers by St. Louis on May 21, 1975. Cowick played in just five more NHL games with the Blues the following year before retiring and returning to his native British Columbia were he spent 27 years as a police officer in Victoria before retiring in 2003.
At the "unlucky" end of the Stanely Cup stick are the three Hall of Famers -- Jean Ratelle, Mike Gartner, and Brad Park. An elegant and smooth skating center, Ratelle appeared in 1,281 regular season games (491-776--1,267) and 123 Stanley Cup tilts (32-66--98) with the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins between 1961 and 1981 without ever winning a Cup. After a year with the WHA Cincinnati Stingers as a teenager in 1978-79, Gartner, a high scoring right winger, spent eighteen seasons in the NHL with Washington, Minnesota, New York Rangers, Toronto, and Phoenix totaling 1,432 regular season (708-627--1,335) and 122 play-off (43-50--93) games without ever reaching the finals. Defenseman Brad Park appeared in 1,113 regular season NHL games (213-683--896) and another 161 play-off contests (35-90--125) in his eighteen year career with New York, Boston, and Detroit. While making it to the finals three times, Park also never got to “taste champaign” from the small silver bowl.
The longest and shortest Stanley Cup overtime games...
In the spring of 1936, right wing Modere "Mud" Bruneteau was an all but annonymous 21- year old rookie on the Detroit Red Wings who had only played in half of that club's regular season games (24 of 48) in 1935-36 and collected just two career points (both goals) as an NHL'er. On March 24, 1936, he took to the ice in Montreal for his first ever Stanley Cup game facing the Montreal Maroons, but the time he took off his uniform off many, many hours later his name would be engraved in the hearts and minds of hockey fans forever. Normie Smith was in goal for the Wings while 1935 Vezina Trophy winner Lorne Chabot minding the twine for the Maroons, and both were perfect through sixty minutes of regulation thus sending the contest into overtime at 0-0 -- and that's the way it would remain for almost six full overtime periods! It finally ended when Bruneteau beat Chabot at 16:30 of that sixth overtime with just the third goal (and also third overall NHL point) of his career (as well as his first ever in the playoffs) to give the Wings a 1-0 victory in the longest game in NHL history at 176:30. That record still stands today eighty-two years later. The Red Wings would go on to sweep the best-of-three series from the Maroons and then defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs in the finals, three-games-to-one, to capture their first ever Stanley Cup championship. Ironically the Leafs only win in the finals came in game three which they won, 4-3, in the fourth overtime period!
"Mud" Bruneteau, Brian Skrudland
The current record for thefastest playoff overtime goal came half a century after Bruneteau's marathon winner. After losing the first game of the 1986 Stanley Cup finals, 5-2, to the Calgary Flames on May 16th, the visiting Montreal Canadiens were in danger of going down on May 18th by two games when game two was knotted at 2-2 at the end of sixty minutes. Surprisingly rookie Habs' coach Jean Perron sent out his checking line of Brian Skrudland, Mike McPhee and Claude Lemieux to begin overtime which, in hindsight, proved to be a "genius" move. After winning the opening face-off, Skrudland and McPhee unexpectedly found themselves on a 2-on-1 break which, after faking a shot, McPhee used to slip the puck to Skrudland who cut to the net and calmly redirected it past a surpised Mike Vernon just nine seconds into overtime. The Canadiens would go on to sweep the next three games to capture their 23rd Stanely Cup title.
Letting Quayle near the Grail...
One of the unique aspects of the Stanley Cup is that it permanently carries the names of the thousands of men -- and even some women (see below for that) -- who have contributed to its winning. Every summer the Cup is taken to Montreal where the bottom "ring" of its massive barrel shaped base is removed and the names of the championship club and up to forty of its owners, managers, coaches, scouts, players, and trainers are incused by hand in the silver, letter by letter, using a hammer and individual steel dies. Most of those names appear exactly as they are submitted to the engraver, but over the years mistakes have been made in the process of transcription in a surprising number of them resulting in permanent spelling errors as once each letter has been cut it in the silver it can't be corrected. Among the players who have had their names spelled incorrectly on the Stanley Cup at least once are:
Cy Denneny, the player-coach of the 1929 champion Boston Bruins is listed on the Cup twice -- once as a player and again as coach. One listing is spelled correctly, but the other includes an extra "n" spelling his name as "Cy Dennenny." "Razzle Dazzle Line" member Gerry Heffernan, of the 1944 champion Montreal Canadiens, appears with his first name misspelled with a "J" as "Jerry Hefferman." Current Montreal Canadiens' GM Bob Gainey's name appears on the Cup six times -- five times as a player with the Habs, and once more as GM of the Dallas Stars in 1999. When he won his first Cup with the Canadiens in 1976, however, his name "R.Gainy."
When the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 1952, the engraver got both center Alex Delvecchio's name wrong spelling in as "Belvecchio," as well as that of his coach, Tommy Ivan, had the first two letters of his last name reversed so that is came out a "Nivan." In 1996, right wing Adam Deadmarsh of the Colorado Avalanche found is last name spelled "Deadmarch" but in this case it was actually It was later corrected -- the first time such a repair was successfully made.
No player in NHL history has had his name engraved on the Stanley Cup then did "The Pocket Rocket" -- center Joseph Henri Richard -- of the Montreal Canadiens' squads during his twenty seasons playing with the Habs between 1956 and 1975 appears on the Cup eleven times as a member of the winning Canadiens' clubs in 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969,, 1971, and 1973. His longtime teammate with the Habs, the great Jean Béliveau, has him beat by a mile, however, with his name appearing a remarkable seventeen times -- ten times as a player, and seven more times as a member of the Canadiens' front office!!
"Letting Quayle near the Grail..." of course refers to former U.S. Vice President J. Danforth Quayle's famous gaff when he "corrected" a student's spelling of "potato" (to "potatoe") at an elementary school spelling bee in Trenton, New Jersey, on June 15, 1992.
The "distaff" side of the Stanley Cup...
While all of the players who win and get their names engraved on the Stanley Cup on the ice are men, the names of thirteen women also appear among them! Here are the stories of five of them...
This first to ever be engraved on the Cup was Lily Murphy which appeared there mysteriously in 1911. "Her connection to hockey is dubious," notes the Hockey Hall of Fame, "although her husband, Dennis Murphy, whose name is also on the trophy, was president of the Bank of Ottawa when the original Ottawa Senators won the Stanley Cup in 1911."
Marguerite Norris has her name in the Cup twice as President of the Detroit Red Wings when that club won it 1954 and 1955. The daughter of James Norris who bought the club in 1932, Ms. Norris was the Wings' chief executive from 1952 to 1955. (She died in 1994 at the age of 67.) Denise DeBartolo York, the daughter of late construction magnate and former Pittsburgh Penguins' owner Edward J. DeBartolo Sr., got her name on the Cup as the 30-year old President of the Pens in 1991. She is now the owner of the NFL San Francisco 49'ers.
Charlotte Grahame is included with the names of the 2001 champion Colorado Avalanche for which she was the Senior Director of Hockey Administration. The wife of former NHL goalie Ron Grahame, she added another distinction when her son, John Grahame, got this name on the Cup as well as a goalie with the Tampa Bay Lightening in 2004 thus making her a part of the only mother-son combination to have their names engraved on the trophy. Lisa Ilitch Murray has her name along with that of her father, Mike Illitch, and several other family members in the Cup three times as a co-owner of the Detroit Red Wings when that club won the title in 1997, 1998, and 2002.
The complete list of names of women that are engraved on Stanley Cup...
Lily Murphy (Ottawa, 1911), Marguerite Norris (Detroit, 1954, 1955), Sonia Scurfield (Calgary, 1989), Marie Denise DeBartolo York (Pittsburgh, 1991), Marian Ilitch (Detroit 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008), Denise Ilitch Lites (Detroit 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008), Lisa Ilitch Murray (Detroit 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008), Carole Ilitch (Detroit 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008), Marie Carnevale (New Jersey, 2000), Callie Smith (New Jersey, 2000), Charlotte Grahame (Colorado, 2001), Nancy Beard (Detroit, 2002), and Susan Samueli (Anaheim, 2007).
The last game winning goal of the year...
Sometime in the first two weeks of June the last game winning goal of the 2015-16 season -- which of course will also be this year's Stanley Cup winning goal -- will be scored. Sometimes these goals are scored by Hall of Famers, other times by players with far more modest careers and credentials. All we know for sure right now is that the puck that will go in the net for that Cup-clinching goal and the stick that will propel it there are both now sitting in a box or in a storeroom in one of these two clubs' home arenas. It is yet to be determined, however, exactly which puck and stick those will be, and at who's hands the Cup winning shot will come. Here are the stories of how and by whom a few of those Cup winning goals have been scored in the past...
Although Mark Messier won six Stanley Cups (Five with Edmonton and one with the New York Rangers) and scored 109 playoff goals, his only Cup-winning marker came at Madison Square Garden on June 14, 1994, when the Ranger captain beat Kirk McLean at 13:29 of the second period of the seventh game of the finals for a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Chicago Black Hawk right winger Harold "Mush" March scored his cup winner at Chicago Stadium on April 10, 1934, against Detroit's Wilf Cude at 10:05 of the second overtime to give the Hawks a 1-0 victory in game four of the then best-of-five finals. That lone goal came on Chicago's 53rd shot of the game while the Hawks' Charlie Gardiner (who died two months later of a cerebral hemorrhage) stopped all 40 Detroit shots for his 1-0 Cup winning shutout. While rough-and-tumble winger Bob "Hound" Kelly only scored nine goals in 109 NHL play-off games, one of those gave his Philadelphia Flyers their second consecutive Cup when he beat Buffalo Sabres' goalie Roger Crozier just eleven seconds into the third period of game six of the finals played at the Aud in on May 27, 1975, in a 2-0 Bernie Parent shut-out.
The great Gordie Howe's only career Cup winner came at the Olympia on April 14, 1955, at 19:49 of the second period of game seven of the finals in which the Red Wings defeated the Montreal Canadiens, 3-1. (The Wings -- who got all four of their wins in the Finals in Detroit -- had edged out the Canadiens for home ice for the series owing to a late season forfeit win at Montreal on March 17, 1955, when NHL President Clarence Campbell stopped the game (with Detroit leading 4-1 in the first period) when the crowd rioted in protest of Campbell's suspension of Habs' star Maurice Richard for the remainder of the season and the playoffs after he had knocked out linseman Cliff Thompson in Boston four nights earlier.) The 1955 Cup was the Wings' and Howe's fourth in six years -- and it was also the last time "Mr. Hockey" would ever hoist it in victory. Colorful winger Eddie "The Entertainer" Shack got his Cup winning goal at Maple Leaf Gardens on April 18, 1963, when he beat Detroit's Terry Sawchuk at 13:28 of the third period in the 3-1 Leafs' game five Cup winner. (Toronto's other two goals in that title game were scored by Dave Keon -- both shorthanded!)
Hockey Hall of Fame winger Bryan Hextall Sr. collected his Cup winner in Toronto on April 13, 1940, beating the Leafs' Walter "Turk" Broda at 2:07 of overtime to give his New York Rangers their third Cup title in a dozen years -- and also their last in more than another half century until the Broadway Blues finally got their fourth 54 years later in 1994. In 1984 feisty center Ken "The Rat" Linseman helped the Edmonton Oilers end the New York Islanders' impressive four year run as Cup champions by beating Isles' netminder Billy Smith at the 38-second mark of the second period of game five of the finals at Northlands Coliseum on May 19, 1984, leading the high flying Oilers to a 5-2 victory. (While the Oilers would go on to win four more Cups over the next six years, Linseman would not be a part of any of them as just a month after scoring that Cup-winning goal he was traded to the Boston Bruins for Mike Krushelnyski on June 21, 1984.) Left wing Harold "Gizzy" Hart helped the WCHL Victoria Cougars to become the last non-NHL team to win the Stanley Cup by beating legendary Montreal Canadiens' goalie Georges Vézina at 2:35 of the second period in a 6-1 victory over the NHL champion Habs in a game played in Victoria, B.C., on March 30, 1925. (The next year the NHL Montreal Maroons beat Victoria to win the Cup in the last challenge series with the WCHL champions before the Stanely Cup became the NHL's play off championship trophy in 1927.) Veteran left wing Brenden Shanahan's Cup winner came at Joe Louis Arena on June 13, 2002, when he beat Carolina Hurricanes' netminder Arturs Irbe at 14:04 of the second period of game five of the finals (and added an empty net goal at 19:15 of the third period) to give his Detroit Red Wings a 3-1 victory and both him and his club their third title in six years.
High -- and Low -- Stanley Cup leading goal scorers...
Reggie "The Rifle" Leach of the Philadelphia Flyers captured both the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP in the 1976 Stanley Cup playoffs (even though the Flyers lost to the Montreal Canadiens in the finals), and was also the post season's leading scorer with 24 points in 19 goals and 5 assists in 16 games. Leach's 19 goals that year still stands as the most collected by a leading scorer in the play-offs. (Edmonton's Jari Kurri also scored 19 goals in a playoff year when he notched 31 points (19-12) in 1985 but teammate Wayne Gretzky finished with a record 47 overall post season points on 17 goals and 30 assists for the Oilers.)
Three players tied for leading scorer in the 1929 Stanley Cup playoffs -- Butch Keeling of the New York Rangers, and Andy Blair and Ace Bailey of the Toronto Maple Leafs. All three of these marksmen did so with just three points each with Keeling and Blair both notching three goals and Bailey with a goal and two assists. Three points is the fewest to qualify for a leading scorer by an NHL player in the post season -- and Bailey's one goal also makes him the "lowest" scorer to accomplish the same feat. (Two other NHL'ers would later tie for leading scorer in the play-offs with just one goal but also had more points as Boston's Cooney Weiland (1-5) tied teammate Marty Barry (3-3) with six points overall in 1930, and Toronto's Charlie Conacher (1-4) tied fellow Leaf Busher Jackson (3-2) and the Montreal Maroons' Cy Wentworth (3-2) and Baldy Northcott (4-1) with five in 1935.