The Montreal Canadiens’ 1993 Stanley Cup run was predicted by coach Jacques Demers, executed by his often-underrated players and thrilled Tape to Tape co-host Ryan Dixon — when he was a Habs-obssessed 13-year-old.
To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Canadiens’ 24th championship — the last NHL title won by any Canadian-based team — Tape to Tape, on June 2, is releasing a special hour-long podcast packed full of interviews with Habs, including Conn Smythe winner Patrick Roy, from that ’93 squad and many others who either observed that team closely or faced off against it during Montreal’s overtime-fuelled ride.
It was a journey Demers, who took over the Canadiens bench from Pat Burns in the summer of 1992, saw coming. In his very first meeting with the club before that season, Demers told a club that had just traded for goal-scorers Vincent Damphousse and Brian Bellows that they were all going to “shock the hockey world.”
“Everyone looked at each other like, ‘What does he mean?’ ” recalls defenceman Patrice Brisebois. “Because Jacques said, ‘We’re going to win the Stanley Cup.’ It was not only making the playoffs; it was, no, we’re going to win the Stanley Cup.”
That would have been music to the ears of Dixon, who — from a Montreal fandom perspective — had the misfortune of coming into the world just as the Canadiens were transitioning from decades as an unstoppable force to something much different than ‘Lions in Winter.’ Together with producer and sound engineer extraordinaire Amil Delic, who dug deep in the archives to find old clips that perfectly complement recent conversations, Dixon takes listeners back in time through the lens of a Grade 8 kid cheering for a team that, despite its winning reputation, had delivered only heartache to him.
“Twenty-three titles had come either before I existed or before I was old enough to really get involved,” Dixon explains. “But when it came time to pursue No. 24, I lived and died with each game.”
Everything is covered here, including Marty McSorley — who was infamously sent to the box for using an illegal stick in an all-time Stanley Cup Final-swinging moment — accusing the Canadiens of secretly measuring L.A. Kings blades when nobody was looking. On a lighter note, former Kings coach Barry Melrose talks about finding movie stars Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn drinking his beer, while the Habs reveal which preposterously cheesy ’80s song blared in the dressing room before every game.
All the while, Dixon personalizes the story with anecdotes from his experience walking along a knife’s edge for two months while his team pulled off 10 straight extra-time victories. It’s an unthinkable number — and just one of a few things that hasn’t happened again since the magical spring of 1993.