Many Montréal Canadiens fans – including me – believe that what the team has experienced this year has a lot in common with the years of 1986 and 1993, when unexpectedly Montreal won the Stanley Cup to the surprise of many. In both Stanley Cups, the Canadiens, other than their will to win the Cup, were able to depend on their goalie Patrick Roy. This would not have been the first time that the Montreal team won The Stanley Cup due to the acrobatics of their goalie.
DRYDEN: THE YOUNG GOALIE WITH 6 CUPS
I think most fans remember the cups won by the young goalkeeper Ken Dryden. on March20, 1971, Dryden replaced injured veteran goalie Rogie Vachon. He played so well that he clinched the spot from Vachon as Montreal’s starting goaltender for the playoffs. That year the rookie Dryden astonished the fans, his coach, his teammates and his opponents with his stellar performance and amazing stops, helping the Habs to win the 1971 Stanley Cup. In addition to being the best goalie and most indispensable player on the team, Dryden added five other Stanley Cups to his career in 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979.
THE CUP OF 1986
May 24, 1986, 35 years ago, coached by Jean Perron, the Canadiens won their 23rd Stanley Cup.
However, during the 1985-1986 season nothing was hinting that Montreal had any chance to win the cup. To the surprise of all before the beginning of that season, Jacques Lemaire announced his resignation. He believed that his right-hand man, assistant coach Jean Perron, could succeed him. That trust was not felt by everyone; the sportswriters of the time, through their articles, questioned Perron’s ability to lead behind the bench.
At the same time the team’s veterans, like Bob Gainey and Larry Robinson, were slow to accept him, and some players even asked for his replacement – a few weeks before the playoffs began.
The Canadiens’ start to the season was disastrous and the very large number of rookies on the team, numbering eight, had difficulties.
Young and experienced players formed two camps. This was known throughout the group. Details of that season were mentioned occasionally in interviews by veteran player Mario Tremblay such as the frantic music the young players played in the locker room “breaking the nerves” of the rest of the players.
Fortunately, though, the team enjoyed the successes of forwards Mats Naslund, Kjell Dahlin and Bobby Smith who have were having a wonderful season.
However, around mid-March 1986, the group experienced its worst period.
There were six games left to end the regular season when rookie Claude Lemieux was called up from the minor team of the American Hockey League. “I was then given the opportunity to prove myself worthy,” the retired Lemieux said recently in a radio interview.
That same season, team goalie Steve Penney was injured. Then coach Jean Perron decided to give the net to 20-year-old rookie Patrick Roy as did his predecessor in 1971 trusting Ken Dryden in nets.
Even though many – especially the sportswriters – were against making Roy the starting goalie, Perron’s decision was wise. Suddenly the atmosphere changed drastically among players – veterans and the twelve youngsters. Bonding together and leaving their differences aside, they played the hardest to accumulate wins. With the net minding of rookie Roy, they managed to participate in the playoffs with only 87 points.
During the playoffs, chemistry developed, where veterans and young players left their differences to reach the top and win the playoffs.
Averaging in GA 1.93 in the 1986 playoffs, Roy fully deserved the Conn Smythe Trophy as the team’s most valuable player for his team, like his predecessor Ken Dryden in 1971. Patrick Roy also won the Stanley Cup, as well as Conn Smythe in 1993 with the Montreal team and in 1996 and 2001 with the Colorado team.
THE 1993 CUP: JUNE 9, 1993
In 1993, the Montreal Canadiens were again the last team the experts would see as Stanley Cup winners.
But then towards the end of that season things changed. They played very hard to participate once again in the playoffs. Still hockey writers believed that they would lose in the first round. To everyone’s surprise, they continued to fight hard, winning 11 consecutive games. They defeated the Quebec Nordiques, Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders and Los Angeles Kings to win the cup on June 9, 1993.
Ten of the 11 victories included an unprecedented 10-win record wind in overtime – where Patrick Roy prevailed once again thanks to his perseverance, agility and amazing saves.
MANY SIMILARITIES THIS YEAR
They are many similarities this year with the years – 1986 and 1993 – when Montreal won the cup. Like 1986, team coach Dominique Ducharme was assistant to coach Claude Julien as Perron was Lemaire’s assistant. Lemaire resigned. Julien when the other one was fired on February 24, 2021. The Canadiens as then, managed to make it in the playoffs round. Again, the odds were against them and all believed they would be losing the first round facing a much stronger team; Toronto Maple Leafs. On the contrary they managed to beat Toronto three games in a row, while losing in the first four games three games to one. In the second round they annihilated the opposing Jets team with four straight wins to face in the third round – the semifinals, the Golden Knights of Las Vegas.
This year’s team is reminiscent of the’86 team where rookies played with experienced veterans, who had won many Stanley cups for their former teams. The young players want to prove they deserve the trust of their coach and management to play, and the veterans want to prove to their former teams that their experience and perseverance plays an important role in a team that believes in them to help them win the cup.
We witnessed that last Wednesday night 16/6 in Montreal’s 3-2 victory over Las Vegas, where the return of defensive player Jeff Petry played an important role even though he played with two broken fingers and both eyes inflamed! The harmony between the recruits and the veterans brought results. One such example was the pass given by veteran Petry to the young Caufield, who bluffed that he was going to shoot and instead passed the puck to veteran Tyler Toffoli who scored Montreal’s second goal. The other major similarity is that goalie Carey Price plays an important role, stopping opposing teams’ scorers in the first two rounds and now with Vegas. He plays with full conviction, like his predecessors who won the previous cups for Montreal’s Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy. There is a French saying, “Jamais deux sans trois”. Now if you add the jersey numbers of Dryden #29, Roy #33 and Price #31, your sum is … 93!