Tuesday, November 11, 2008

1/4 Inch Away

Illegal Curves And Illegitimate Claims

While I was browsing around trying to locate former Habs defencemen who would be better coaches than, well, no one; I came across an article in the LA Times. It caught my eye and piqued my interest. The story is about as topical as reflections on Houle's Dykhuis signing or the Andrew Cassels trade; but LA brought it up, so I'll duly respond.

You see, they're still smarting over there on the left coast – from the sting of Game 2, Stanley Cup Final, 1993.

Now call me a stickler Barry Melrose, but I just don't agree with you here:
"I think it cost us the Stanley Cup," says Melrose, back in coaching with the Tampa Bay Lightning this season after 13 years at ESPN. "I don't think anyone doubts that. We won Game 1 handily, we were dominating Game 2. . . .

"If you're up, 2-0, going back to your building, the numbers show that you're going to win the Cup, so without a doubt I think it cost us the Stanley Cup."

I think Barry's case might have held some water had the Kings won another game, but alas, they did not. Indeed, the stats would show that the team with home ice going into Game 3 would also put you in the driver's seat. He went on (as he tends to):
"It's the type of thing that should be in the Hall of Fame," Melrose says, "because it probably determined who won a Stanley Cup. I would think they'd have it."

It's pretty clear to me that that call cost them Game 2. But not the Cup, buddy. In fact, a better coach might have coaxed a better start in OT from his team that just lost the lead in the final minutes.

Remembering back to the time, the series did not turn at that juncture, as the article implies. There was elation that the Habs managed to rescue a win at home, but there was also the feeling of being in a hole – especially after a month of cruising through games. If I wanted to pinpoint where the series turned, I would say it didn't really go for the Habs until that second OT goals from John Leclair in LA.

A more lucid Luc Robitaille (a player I always wished could have finished up with us) recognises the reality better than melodramatic Melrose:
"It cost us that one game," says the Kings' president of business operations, who in 1992-93 was their leading scorer. "The next two games were probably the best two games the Kings have ever played, but we lost both in overtime."

The second interesting element of the story talks about the whereabouts of the stick itself. Apparently, if you want to catch a glimpse of the cheater's curve, you can see it at Wayne Gretzky's in Toronto, but only when Marty McSorley is far enough away.

It's funny that in LA Marty McSorley will probably live on in infamy forever because of his illegal blade. Quite nice, considering how much worse it could be: he could be remembered as the goon who tomahawked Donald Brashear across the skull, or perhaps just as the mediocre player he was.

Now at least, there's a story that people want to hear.

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