Monday, June 3, 2013

McSorley's Stick and Desjardins Hat Trick, I was there.

Twenty years ago today. Montreal Forum. Stanley Cup Finals.
I was there.
My only Stanley Cup Final, and man what a game to have witnessed.

This was game two of the 1993 Stanley Cup Final between Montreal and Los Angeles. My buddy and I were living in Monreal at the time and had camped out in front of The Forum a week earlier for these tickets. We spent a thankfully pleasant night about twentieth in a line of Habs fans that eventually numbered well into the hundreds. The night was spent literally on the sidewalk on Ste. Catherine St. right in front of the Forum. We had sleeping bags and a battery operated radio and honestly  we barely slept the entire night. Most of the kids in front of us were there on behalf of scalpers and being paid fifty bucks to buy the maximum amount of tickets allowed. My pal and I were on much more of a budget and opted for only the standing room tickets for games Two and Seven. I think we paid 30 apiece for them.

So, there we were at Game Two, about a week later. We stood at about blue line depth halfway up the arena, and even better we had the front of the standing section which meant a railing to lean on. I have to admit, it was a tight fit as they must have sold every single standing ticket and we were about four deep all around the rink. We had to go individually on beer runs or washroom breaks so as to not lose our railing spot. It was on one of these forays into the concourse that I met Janet Gretzky who was there with golfer Craig "The Walrus" Stadler who was obviously pals with Wayner.

Then, late in the third with the Habs in danger of going down two games to none, Jacques Demers called for a stick measurement on Marty McSorley. The coach was quoted after the game, "We were dead. We didn't want to go down 2-0. I never like to embarrass a man who has so much pride like Marty. I just do my job. We didn't have a choice." Kings coach Barry Melrose felt the move lacked class saying, "We got a lesson tonight. We're going to have to watch stuff like that throughout the series. I don't believe in wining that way." Apparently Montreal captain, Guy Carbonneau had noticed that both McSorley and Luc Robitaille used illegal sticks in Game One and said later, "With six or seven minutes left, I reminded Demers that Robitaille and McSorley had bad sticks and that we could call it. It was McSorley's fault. It was too big".

Anyway, while all this was happening on the ice we up in standing room and the rest of the crowd were trying to figure out what was going on. Once we saw referee Kerry Fraser take the stick to the penalty box, we knew. The rest was history. With Patrick Roy pulled, Desjardins scored 32 seconds later and won it 51 seconds into OT. Desjardins had also notched the first ever (and still only) three goal game by a defenceman in Stanley Cup Finals history. It was one of the more incredible turn of events I'd ever seen at a sporting event and I have to admit I was high-fiving some of our French standing room neighbours when the Habs won. We really had no choice in the matter, the mass of standees jumped as one and pandemonium ensued.
Of course, we would not need our Game Seven tickets as Montreal took the Cup in five. That game, we DID manage to make it to the Peel Pub to watch, and when it was over we spilled out of the bar onto Rue Ste. Catherine and into the Stanley Cup riot. I've probably never been more scared for my well-being before or since. That's what happens when beer bottles are flying off tenth floor balconies and people are running metal barriers into police car windshields. But, that's another tale.

As well, it's needless to say the Game Two high-fiving was the first and last time I've ever celebrated a Montreal victory.

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