Toronto Maple Leafs fans of a certain vintage remember where they were during Game 6 of the 1993 Conference Finals between the Maple Leafs and Los Angeles Kings. The Maple Leafs were one win away from dispatching Wayne Gretzky and the Kings to reach their first Stanley Cup Final since 1967.
And then, heartbreak.
With the game tied 4-4 early in overtime, and the Maple Leafs already shorthanded, Gretzky hit Doug Gilmour in the face with his stick. Gilmour was cut on his chin, but none of the officials saw the infraction and Gretzky scored the game-winner seconds later. The Kings would also win Game 7, denying the Maple Leafs a chance to compete for the Cup.
Game 6 was airing on Sportsnet 360 Friday as part of Sportsnet’s NHL Classic series and, while quarantined at home, Gilmour watched it for the first time and shared his reaction on Twitter.
“Watching as a fan I feel your emotions, this is the first time I’ve seen it, lots of stuff you don’t see when you’re in the moment!” Gilmour wrote while tagging teammate Wendel Clark and the referee who missed the penalty, Kerry Fraser, in the tweet.
Fraser opened up about the call in a 2016 piece for the Players’ Tribune.
“Under the 1993 rules, if Gretzky high-sticks Gilmour and it draws blood, it’s a five-minute major. He’s gone. It was a huge call to make — a worse one to miss,” Fraser wrote. “Guys from both teams were skating up to me. It didn’t smell right. I should have known when I saw Gretzky skating away. Whenever there was a dispute, Gretz was always at the forefront arguing his side of it. But this time, he kind of slinked away. That was uncharacteristic. That should have tipped me off.”
The Maple Leafs have returned to the Conference Finals three times since then but not since 2001-02, leaving most fans to still wonder what could have been in 1993.
Sportsnet will be airing NHL Classics nightly across our channels during the pause in the season. Check out our broadcast schedule here.