It's been TEN YEARS already...fuck, I'm old!

As I'm often wont to do, I pulled out my VHS copy of the highlights from the '93 NHL playoffs, which was the last time my Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup. Besides allowing me to actually feel good about my team for one short hour, it's also a look at one of the most underrated Cup-winning teams of all time.

Seriously, the next jackass pundit that refers to them as "The worst Cup-winning team ever" is going to get stabbed in the throat. Let's review, shall we?

-- Patrick Roy in goal. That alone has to put them over at least one or two other Cup-winning teams...I mean, as much as I've loathed the guy since he turned his back on us and bolted to Colorado, the guy was an absolute game-breaker. Even as good as Theodore was in his first season as our No. 1, we've never had a guy since Roy where it's an absolute shock when he's beaten. That year, especially during the playoffs, the Habs were free to attack the net with abandon, because even if the other team came back on an odd-man rush, chances were that Roy was just going to save it anyway. You just don't see many goalies like that: Mike Richter when he was on, Dominik Hasek once Buffalo FINALLY gave up on Grant Fuhr, Martin Brodeur the last 6 or 7 years...that's about it in recent memory.

-- About the lack of "stars": The silliest argument about the '93 Habs (and the one that makes me want to drive a six-inch spike into the eye of he who utters it) is that they are the worst Cup-winning team because they had no major stars besides Roy. Oh REALLY? Oh, OK, so John LeClair and Eric Desjardins were only stars once they left Montreal, right? Sure, it's THEIR fault that the idiot media didn't consider them as such until the left...riiiiiiiiiiiight. And, IMO, only a moron would argue that Vincent Damphousse, Kirk Muller, and Brian Bellows weren't three of the best offensive stars at the time, and that Mathieu Schneider wasn't one of the top defensemen.

-- The supporting cast: As the Anaheim Mighty Ducks AND New Jersey Devils proved this past season, the supporting cast, the bit players, are sometimes just as (if not more) important than a team's stars. The '93 Habs had a damn good one, as far as I'm concerned. At forward, you had guys like Stephane Lebeau and Denis Savard who could score big goals, Guy Carbonneau to win faceoffs (and score big goals, and play hard defensively), and Mike Keane, who often was one of the best defensive players on the ice (hell, in the LEAGUE). The defense, while not exactly household names, was 7th in the league during the regular season in goals against, and could play the tough, physical hockey that the playoffs demand. I'd MUCH rather have the '93 Desjardins, Schneider, Kevin Haller, J.J. Daigneault, and ESPECIALLY Lyle Odelein then the jerkoffs we've had since (even ol' Breeze-By, Patrice Brisebois, wasn't a total liability...going 10-21-31 in the regular season). The current Habs could also do with guys like Brian Skrudland, Ed Ronan, and Todd Ewen...physical checkers who could throw down when necessary (why the hell did we trade Donald Brashear again?).

-- The stats: For a team that now struggles to get 60-point scorers, those Habs had 5: Damphousse (35-58-97), Muller (37-57-94), Bellows (40-48-88), Lebeau (31-49-80), and, surprisingly, Keane (15-45-60). Also, Savard was 16-34-50 in just 63 games.

-- The regular season record: Sure, they were only 3rd in their division behind Boston and Quebec that year. However, keep in mind that they were 3rd with a record of 48-30-6, for 102 points. That was actually good for 4th in the Wales Conference that year (Pittsburgh won the President's Trophy with 119). And, furthermore, it would have been good enough for SECOND in the Campbell Conference, two points behind the Blackhawks. As mentioned, they had the 7th best defense in terms of goals against, but also the 9th best in goals scored. How's THAT for well-balanced? Now, one point I have to concede about the regular season record was that they DID play in a division with the horrid Hartford Whalers (26-52-6), and the expansion Ottawa Senators (long before they became the Chokers, 10-70-4). However, the Canucks won the Smythe that year with one less point than the Habs had, in a division with the horrid Edmonton Oilers (26-50-8), and the expansion San Jose Sharks (11-71-2). Not only that, but THEY didn't have to share a division with Boston (51-26-7), or Quebec (47-21-10). One last point about this...their record was NOT simply due to Roy, who actually had an off-year by his standards (31-25-5, 3.20, .894, 2 SO)...hell, even Andre "Red-Light" Racicot was comparable that season (17-5-1, 3.39, .881, 1 SO). THEY WON 17 FUCKING GAMES WHEN RED-LIGHT RACICOT WAS IN NET. Please, did THAT get through to you Hab-haters?!

-- The "easy road through the playoffs": In the playoffs, the Canadiens finished with a 16-4 record against Quebec (4-2), Buffalo (4-0), N.Y. Islanders (4-1), and the L.A. Kings (4-1). Now this is just fucking stupid. Remember, this is back in the good old days (before that shitbag Gary Bettman destroyed the sport) where you went 1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3, then winner vs. winner in the division, then played the other division winner in the Conference Final. Anyway, Quebec was, the numbers say, the best team they faced that year. Despite the fact they had a "melting down in front of our eyes" Ron Hextall in net, those guys were no joke...see how these names grab you: Mats Sundin (114 pts), Joe Sakic (105), Steve Duchense (best offensive d-man of the year, career high 82 pts), Mike Ricci (78), Owen Nolan (77), Andrei Kovalenko (68), Scott Young (60), Martin Rucinsky (48), and another very good offensive d-man in Alexei Gusarov (30). Lots of offensive firepower, right? Hell, they even swept the first two games in Quebec City...of course, the Habs then promptly took advantage of their suspect defense and goaltending to take the next 4...including two straight on their ice, in a completely hostile situation (remember, this used to be one of the best rivalries in hockey). Buffalo was next...boasting 148-point scorer Pat LaFontaine, 127-point scorer Alexander Mogilny, and the two Chuks (Dale Hawerchuk, Dave Andreychuk) behind them...along with a tough defense corps. These were the guys that kinda went and SWEPT BOSTON IN THE FIRST ROUND...thought I'd point THAT out. However, Montreal then, in turn, swept them. My feeling is that since Hasek won the last two against Boston, he should have gotten the call against us...but, I also think it wouldn't have mattered. Oddly, every game in the series finished 4-3, the last three in OT (I'll get to the OTs next). Next came the Islanders...and a big reason everyone craps on Montreal's achievement that year was because they didn't play Pittsburgh that year. Sure, they won the President's Trophy (and look at all the good THAT has done teams in the playoffs throughout recent history), they had four 100-point scorers (Mario Lemieux 160, Kevin Stevens 111, Rick Tocchet 109, Ron Francis 100...not to mention Jaromir Jagr at 94), a good goalie in Tom Barrasso, and a well-rounded team otherwise. However, if you can't beat a New York Islanders team whose main asset was a playing WAY over his head Glenn Healy (Pierre Turgeon did have 123 points, but he was the victim of that famous Dale Hunter cheap shot in their opening round against Washington, and didn't return until the Montreal series), how can anyone say they would have beaten us? Seriously, the Isles basically only got past the Capitals because that particular Caps team was famous for being playoff chokers [Fun fact about that Caps team: Both Byron Dafoe AND Olaf Kolzig got one game in during the regular season behind the normal tandem of Don Beaupre and Jim Hrivnak], and they happened to be just good enough to take out a far superior Pens team that underestimated them greatly...which is exactly what they would have done against us had they squeaked past the Isles...Not surprisingly, Montreal took care of business against the Isles, where the Pens couldn't. The difference was, in the OT games (again, I'll get to that in a second), the Canadiens came up big, while the Pens choked. Bottom line. Finally, the Cup Final saw us against the L.A. Kings, who despite their mediocre regular-season record, turned out to be a dangerous playoff team. You're talking Luc Robitaille, Jari Kurri, Tony Granato, Rob Blake (people forget he was on this team), Paul Coffey, Tomas Sandstrom, and Wayne Gretzky, who had 65 points IN 45 GAMES during the regular season. They played all-out attacking hockey, and when that didn't work, Kelly Hrudey and their underrated defensemen took care of business. They eliminated superior Flames and Canucks teams, then out-dueled the Maple Leafs in one of the greatest playoff series ever (the Leafs being another thing I'll get to in a second). And, things did look bad when they easily won Game 1 at the Forum, and looked to have Game 2 won. However, another underappreciated facet of the Canadiens took hold...how goddamn well-coached they were. Jacques Demers took a HUGE risk having them measure Marty McSorely's stick, and then an even BIGGER one pulling Roy on that power play. Of course, Apparently Not A Star Yet Desjardins completed his hat trick by scoring there, and then in that OT. Oh, and they swept both games in the LA Forum, then easily took Game 5 to win it. I love how it's a lesser achievement because they never faced the Bruins or Penguins or Maple Leafs, but they did it by DOMINATING THE TEAMS THAT BEAT THOSE OH-SO-GREAT TEAMS. I don't know how much simpler I can put it.

-- Overtime, La Pronlongation: Whatever you want to call it, the Habs won 11 consecutive OT games that year in the playoffs. It's a record that still hasn't been touched (as far as I know), and shows how mentally tough that team was. With OT being so prevalent in the playoffs (especially these days), they stood up to the challenge and won EVERY SINGLE OVERTIME GAME. But no, their win was a fluke...of course it was.

-- The Maple Leafs: I've had arguments with Leaf fans who insist that their team would have gone all the way had they gotten past Los Angeles...coulda, woulda, shoulda. Let's keep in mind that this team, while very good (99 pts in the regular season, Doug Gilmour was playing on another planet, they could muck it up with guys like Wendel Clark and John Cullen [people forget he was on this team]), let's keep in mind that it was a MAJOR, MAJOR UPSET that they got past Detroit in the first round. Thanks to Tim Chevaldae being perhaps the most overrated goaltender in the history of the game, and their choke-artist performance, the Leafs DID get past Detroit. But, why is it that the Leafs are so great for getting past Detroit and a very mediocre St. Louis team... and then losing in 7 in a series they should have won against the team we annhilated in 5, but our win was a fluke, cause of (insert stupid reason here)? I don't understand that.

So, while I can't really say who the worst Cup-winner of all time is here, I am absolutely ADAMANT about the point that it sure as hell wasn't the 93 Canadiens.


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