ON THE ICE, IN THE BOARDROOMS
Leafs/Canadiens. Canadiens/Bruins. Howe/Richard. Great rivalries. Great memories.
Hockey evokes passion from players and fans alike. From the ice, to the stands, and even into the boardroom, there have been many heated National Hockey League rivalries. In the latest edition of NHL 100, a weekly series from The Canadian Press, we examine some of the most memorable clashes.
CANADIENS VS. MAPLE LEAFS
This rivalry dates back the NHL’s first season. Two of hockey’s Original Six teams, Montreal and Toronto were the league’s only clubs in Canada until 1970. Most fans across the country picked one franchise or the other. Montreal has won the Stanley Cup 24 times to Toronto’s 13. While the rivalry has somewhat waned — the teams battled in 15 playoffs series, but none since 1979 — the glory years came in the ’60s when the Canadiens and Leafs combined to win all but one Cup.
While Edmonton and Calgary have been far from powerhouses in recent years, the clubs met five times in the playoffs, with the Oilers downing the Flames in four of those series. But Calgary probably won the most memorable post-season encounter in “The Battle of Alberta” when Edmonton defenceman Steve Smith accidentally shot a puck into his own net off Oilers goalie Grant Fuhr in 1986 to hand Calgary a victory in Game 7. “The Battle of Ontario” has also lost some of its lustre, but the blood of Senators and Maple Leafs fans still boils when names such as Darcy Tucker or Daniel Alfredsson are mentioned. Ottawa and Toronto met in the playoffs in 2000, ’01, ’02 and ’04, with the Leafs winning all four series, including twice in Game 7.
CANADIENS VS. BRUINS
Montreal and Boston have met an astounding 34 times in the playoffs, with the Habs holding a 25-9 edge. Another Original Six rivalry, some of the most memorable — not to mention nasty — games in league history were played between these two storied teams, with many accented by greats such as Maurice Richard, Guy Lafleur, Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr. And who can forget the penalty for too many men on the ice in Game 7 back in 1979 that ultimately led to the firing of Bruins head coach Don Cherry?
HOWE VS. RICHARD
There have been a number of rivalries between players over the years, but Gordie Howe of the Detroit Red Wings and Maurice Richard of the Montreal Canadiens were arguably the game’s first bona-fide superstars. Howe and Richard played 14 seasons in the league together between 1946 and ’60, with either Howe or Richard — or both — competing in the Stanley Cup final every year. Howe won six Hart Trophies as league MVP to Richard’s one, but “The Rocket” had “Mr. Hockey” beat in total Cups with eight to Howe’s four.
BETTMAN VS. GOODENOW
Gary Bettman was named league commissioner in 1993, the year after Bob Goodenow took charge of the players’ union. During their time as adversaries, the NHL experienced two bitter labour disputes between players and owners. The 2004-05 season was completely wiped out by the second lockout, with Goodenow saying he would never accept Bettman’s demand for a salary cap. But the players eventually capitulated, and Goodenow was out of a job two weeks later.
Montreal Canadiens goalie Ken Dryden and defender Serge Savard have Bruins’ Bob Schmautz bottled up as they watch the puck clear the top of the net during second-period Stanley Cup playoff action in Boston Garden on May 14, 1977.