September 11, 2014

1984-85: Super Mario Arrives

The Three Stars:

Mario Brings Magnificence To Pittsburgh - After scoring 282 points in his last season of junior hockey in Laval, Mario Lemieux, the most heralded draft prospect since Guy Lafleur, is taken first overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins (although there is a lot of controversy that they tanked purposefully in order to land the phenom). Not that all was rosy right away. At the draft Mario refused to go to the podium and put on a Penguins jersey, as he was not happy with the Pens contract offers. He eventually signed a three year deal worth $600,000. Lemieux would score on his very first NHL shift, go on to score 100 points and win the Calder Trophy. But there was much more to come in the following years!

Superstars Lafleur, Clarke Retire - Two of the all time greats retire. Bobby Clarke retires in the summer of 1984 and immediately becomes the Flyers general manager. Big jump yes, but he does guide the Flyers to the Stanley Cup final where they lose out to Wayne Gretzky's Oilers. In Montreal Guy Lafleur retires mid-season as he is unhappy with the greatly reduced playing time new coach (and former linemate) Jacques Lemaire is giving him.

Coffey Break At Canada Cup - Canada and the Soviets are in an epic battle, facing each other in overtime of the Canada Cup semi-final. Soviet speedsters Vladimir Kovin and Alexander Skvortsov break in 2 on 1 but Paul Coffey - not exactly known for his defensive play - makes a brilliant effort to thwart the attack. Coffey immediately heads up ice and gains the zone where shortly thereafter he sets up Mike Bossy for the famous game winning goal. Canada goes on to down Sweden in the final.

Season Highlights:
  • "Can't Miss Kid" Bobby Carpenter becomes the first American player to score 50 goals. He finishes with 53. Washington teammate Mike Gartner also gets 50 goals.
  • Despite a bad start that actually saw teenage goaltending phenom Tom Barrasso spend a short stint in the minor leagues, the Sabres quickly recall their star and are thankful they do. He leads the league with a 2.66 GAA and 5 shutouts.
  • Paul Coffey scores 37 goals and 121 points and wins the first of two Norris trophies in his career. 
  • Jari Kurri sets a new NHL record for goals by a right winger with 71. He also equals Reggie Leach's playoff record with 19 goals. 
  • Just another season at the office for Wayne Gretzky. He wins his 5th scoring title, leading the league with 73 goals and 208 points (Kurri is runner up with 135!), wins his 6th consecutive Hart trophy as league MVP, then guides the Oilers to the Stanley Cup final (outscoring Chicago in a wild semi-final) to meet the Philadelphia Flyers. The Oilers down the Flyers in five games to win their 2nd Stanley Cup. Gretzky wins the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP as he set a new scoring record with 47 points.
  • The Flyers were led by goaltending sensation Pelle Lindbergh, the great Mark Howe on defense and scorers Tim Kerr and Brian Propp up front.
  • TSN goes on the air in Canada. 

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