September 17, 2014

1991-92: Labour Wars Begin

The Three Stars:

Stanley Cup Threatened By Players' Strike - It was no April Fool's Day joke when NHL players walked off the job for the first time on April 1st, 1992. With the Stanley Cup playoffs in jeopardy the league and Player's Association reach an agreement on April 10th, saving the NHL's much celebrated 75th anniversary season. The NHL makes concessions in free agency, card licensing monies and minimum salary and guarantees no salary cap will be introduced. Gary Bettman and the NHL owners took note and would never enter another season without a collective bargaining agreement already in place.

Penguins Honour Badger Bob - One the eve of the 1991 Canada Cup tournament, USA coach Badger Bob Johnson of the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins is diagnosed with a brain tumor, an illness which claims his life on November 26th. The American teams tries desperately to win the tourney for him, but loses to Canada in the final. The Penguins, who replace Johnson with the NHL's winningest coach Scotty Bowman, ride Mario Lemieux's coat-tails to a second Stanley Cup in as many years. With 34 points in 15 games, Lemieux wins his second consecutive Conn Smythe trophy.

Doug Gilmour Joins The Leafs - A record 10 player trade between Calgary and Toronto sees Doug Gilmour join the Leafs and become arguably hockey's best player in the next couple of seasons. The deal saw Calgary send Gilmour, Rick Wamsley, Jamie Macoun, Ric Nattress and Kent Manderville to Toronto for Gary Leeman, Alexander Godynyuk, Jeff Reese, Michel Petit and Craig Berube.

Season Highlights:

  • The NHL approves the use of video replay to determine goal/no goal situations.
  • Eric Lindros is drafted 1st overall by the Quebec Nordiques. With much controversy Lindros refuses to play for the Nordiques and joins the Canadian national team. He will help Canada win a silver medal at the Olympics while continuing his hold out.
  • The St. Louis Blues sign restricted free agent Brendan Shanahan. Arbitration is needed to compensate the New Jersey Devils. While the Blues offer Rod Brind'Amour, Curtis Joseph and draft picks, the NHL sides with the Devils and awards Scott Stevens in return. Stevens, who initially refused to report to New Jersey, was controversially signed by the Blues the previous season in similar fashion.
  • Pavel Bure leaves Russia and joins the Vancouver Canucks in November.
  • Bure's arrival along with strong goaltending of Kirk McLean and heart of Trevor Linden give Canucks fans their first excitement in years.
  • The Edmonton Oilers clean house trading veteran stars Glenn Anderson and Grant Fuhr to Toronto for Vince Damphousse and Luke Richardson. They also traded Mark Messier to the New York Rangers for a package including Bernie Nicholls. Jari Kurri and Steve Smith are also moved.
  • Messier stars on Broadway, scoring 107 points and winning the Hart and Pearson trophies.
  • After shelling out huge money to several other stars, the St. Louis Blues inexplicably play hard ball with center Adam Oates - Brett Hull's key set-up man. The dispute results in a trade to Boston in exchange for Craig Janney. Oates has a monster year including a league high 97 assists and third best 142 points.
  • Brian Leetch scores 102 points and wins the Norris Trophy.
  • Mario Lemieux scores 131 points to lead all scorers, with linemate Kevin Stevens finishing 2nd with 123 points. Wayne Gretzky of LA falls to third place with 121.
  • Mario Lemieux scores his 1000th point in just his 513th career game. Only Gretzky scored 1000 faster.
  • Brett Hull has his third consecutive season of scoring 70 or more goals. He finishes with 70 in 73 games played.
  • Pat Lafontaine walks out on the New York Islanders, demanding a trade. He is moved to Buffalo in exchange for Pierre Turgeon. Lafontaine plays just nine games in Buffalo before Jamie Macoun breaks Lafontaine's jaw in two places with a slash, requiring significant reconstructive facial surgery. A major brawl occurs.
  • Figuring out he's more than a tough guy Gary Roberts erupts as a goal scorer in Calgary, netting 53 goals.
  • Patrick Roy leads all goals with a 2.36 GAA and .914 save percentage. He wins his third Vezina trophy. 

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