The Montreal Canadiens eliminated the Vegas Golden Knights to win the franchise’s first Clarence S. Campbell Bowl – typically reserved for teams in the West – and more importantly booked their ticket to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.
Led by predictably stellar play from Carey Price, balanced scoring and solid team defence, the Canadiens have gone 11-2 since facing elimination down 3-1 in their opening-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It’s the first time since 1993 that Montreal will compete for hockey’s top honour, which evokes images of Patrick Roy hoisting the Cup in front of a raucous crowd at the Montreal Forum. It was the last time a Canadian NHL franchise won it all.
Even though it was nearly three decades ago there are some clear similarities between the ’92-93 Habs and this year’s edition.
The Canadiens finished fourth in the Prince of Wales Conference in 1993, while this year’s Canadiens were fourth in the North Division before going on this impressive run.
Both teams were led by tremendous goaltending, with Roy named playoff MVP and Price currently the odds-on favourite to win the Conn Smythe.
Both teams had to battle back from first-round deficits and were clutch in overtime. The 1993 Canadiens won a record 10 overtime games that spring – you can hear Bob Cole yelling, “Desjardins! And the Canadiens win in overtime!” can’t you? The 2021 Canadiens have gone 5-1 in games where 60 minutes wasn’t enough to settle things.
Montreal defeated a star-studded Los Angeles Kings team that advanced to the Cup after a memorable series against the Maple Leafs that featured one of the most notable non-calls of the 1990s.
Wayne Gretzky recorded a whopping 40 points in 24 post-season games but his team fell three wins short of bringing the Cup to Hollywood.
The NHL looked quite different back then. There were only 24 teams, including the Quebec Nordiques, Hartford Whalers, Minnesota North Stars and the first installment of the Winnipeg Jets.
The Florida Panthers and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim had their expansion drafts in the off-season and the Ottawa Senators, after finishing with an 10-70-4 record in the 84-game season, selected Alexandre Daigle with the first-overall pick in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft ahead of future Hall of Famers Chris Pronger (second-overall to the Whalers) and Paul Kariya (fourth-overall to the Ducks).
Teemu Selanne of the Jets and Alexander Mogilny of the Sabres led the league with 76 goals that year. Mogilny did it in fewer games, but Selanne did it as a rookie and won the Calder Trophy. Boston’s Adam Oates led all players with 97 assists, Marty McSorley led the way with 399 penalty minutes as Gretzky’s de facto bodyguard in L.A., and Pavel Bure had 407 shots on goal with the Canucks.
Ed Belfour won his second Vezina Trophy with the Blackhawks, his teammate Chris Chelios won the Norris Trophy as top defenceman, the Islanders’ Pierre Turgeon won the Lady Byng and Toronto’s Doug Gilmour won the Selke.
The Pittsburgh Penguins were the defending Cup champs and Mario Lemieux, whose season was interrupted due to his Hodgkins Lymphoma diagnosis, won the Hart Trophy. Lemieux picked up his second consecutive Art Ross Trohy as leading scorer despite only playing 60 games. The all-time great put up an astonishing 69 goals and 160 points, which is the third-highest points-per-game total in NHL history.
Those are some video game numbers right there – cue the segue – and speaking of video games! Hockey fans began running up the score with Jeremy Roenick in the popular NHL 94, which was released in October of 1993.
Prior to that game hitting the shelves there was NHLPA Hockey ’93, a game notorious for not receiving licensing permission from the NHL so no team names or logos were allowed.
So, what else was happening in 1993? Let’s take brief trip down memory lane.
Barry Bonds won his third NL MVP award in four years, his first with the Giants, after leading the league in home runs and RBI for the first time, while Frank Thomas won his first of two straight AL MVPs with the White Sox.
Mike Piazza (NL) and Tim Salmon (AL) each won Rookie of the Year, Greg Maddux (NL) and Jack McDowell (AL) won the Cy Young Awards and Alex Rodriguez was selected first overall by the Mariners.
Blue Jays fans will never forget Tom Cheek’s classic call when Joe Carter hit a walk-off home run at a sold-out SkyDome to clinch Toronto’s second World Series championship in as many years.
“Touch ’em all, Joe, you’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life.”
The Chicago Bulls won a third consecutive NBA title before Michael Jordan, coming off his seventh consecutive scoring title, announced his first retirement.
Phoenix Suns superstar Charles Barkley was named league MVP and Shaquille O’Neal was Rookie of the Year with the Orlando Magic. Chris Webber was selected first overall by the Magic that summer and traded to the Golden State Warriors for Penny Hardaway plus three first-round picks.
Three weeks prior to the 1993 NBA Draft, Dražen Petrović, who had developed into one of the NBA’s most talented guards, died in a car accident at age 28. Petrović played 280 games split between the Portland Trailblazers and New Jersey Nets but his legacy supersedes his playing career. To learn more about Petrović, his life growing up in war-torn Yugoslavia and his fractured relationship with Hall of Fame centre Vlade Divac you should seek out ESPN’s 30 for 30 episode titled “Once Brothers” that explores a fascinating chapter in basketball history.
Toronto was formally awarded a franchise following NBA Board of Governors approval and a $125-million expansion fee. The team name wouldn’t be decided upon until the following year but more on that below.
The Dallas Cowboys were at the height of their powers as Super Bowl champions led by MVP running back Emmitt Smith. Drew Bledsoe was the top pick of the New England Patriots in the draft and that season also marked beginning of modern free agency.
North of the border the Edmonton Eskimos (now the Edmonton Elks) won the Grey Cup. Doug Flutie won yet another Most Outstanding Player Award and Michael “Pinball” Clemons was making a difference off the field winning the CFLPA’s Outstanding Community Service Award.
That year also marked the beginning of the CFL’s United States expansion experiment with the introduction of the Sacramento Gold Miners. The 1994 and 1995 seasons also featured a handful of American teams before reverting back to an all-Canadian league in 1996.
The world’s No. 1 women’s tennis player, Monica Seles, was stabbed in a horrifying on-court incident, which kept her away from the sport for two years. The No. 1 men’s player that year was Pete Sampras after he won Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles.
Bernhard Langer, Lee Janzen, Greg Norman and Paul Azinger won golf’s four major tournaments on the men’s side and Helen Alfredsson, Patty Sheehan, Lauri Merten and Brandie Burton did the same on the women’s side.
With Mike Tyson serving a prison sentence, the heavyweight boxing ranks featured the likes of Evander Holyfield, Riddick Bowe, Michael Moorer and Lennox Lewis jockeying for position. The top two pound-for-pound fighters at the time were Julio César Chávez and the late Pernell Whitaker, who fought to a disputed draw (Whitaker was robbed) in an anticipated welterweight bout.
Also, the Ultimate Fighting Championship was founded and its first event featured an unknown, undersized grappler named Royce Gracie who introduced the combat sports world at large to the art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Gracie won the UFC 1 tournament and influenced an entire generation of fighters.
Canada had three different people serve as Prime Minister during the year – Brian Mulroney, Kim Campbell and Jean Chrétien – while Bill Clinton succeeded George H. W. Bush as President of the United States.
The Parliament of Canada passed both The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act and Nunavut Act, which led to 1999 creation of Nunavut in the largest Aboriginal land claim settlement in the country’s history.
Nelson Mandela and Frederik Willem de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their roles in ending apartheid in South Africa.
You thought Mario Lemieux and Michael Jordan had dominant years? Well, Steven Spielberg had perhaps the most impressive single year from a director in film history in 1993. Not only did Spielberg direct Jurassic Park, which finished No. 1 at the box office (and inspired the Toronto Raptors team name), but he also directed Schindler’s List, a Best Picture winner that is widely considered one the most revered and moving films of the decade.
On the small screen, the debut of Monday Night RAW had a huge impact on professional wrestling. Royal Canadian Air Farce, This Hour Has 22 Minutes and Theodore Tugboat debuted on Canadian television. The most-watched network TV shows in North America were 60 Minutes, Seinfeld, Roseanne and Home Improvement (shout-out Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor and flannel king Al Borland).
The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album was the top-selling album of the year and Whitney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You” topped the Billboard charts.
Barbie Dolls were among the top-selling toys and Beanie Babies hit the market with a bang.
Oh and the Internet, ever heard of it? Yeah, it wasn’t really much of a thing in 1993.