1992-93: Roy's Habs Top Gretzky's Kings
The Three Stars
Lemieux's Incredible Recovery: Mario Lemieux may have been super-human on the ice but he is forced to face a very scary ordeal when he is diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease - cancer of the lymph nodes. He leaves the ice on January 11th, but makes an amazing recovery following surgery and radiation treatments. He returns on March 2nd, scores a goal and an assist on the same day as his last radiation treatment. He leads the Penguins to the longest winning streak in NHL history - 17 games. He also scores a remarkable 56 points in the final 20 games of the regular season, overtaking Buffalo's Pat Lafontaine for the Art Ross Trophy despite playing in 24 fewer games. Mario is awarded the Hart and Masterton trophies for one of the most incredible individual seasons of all time.
Women Make Their Mark: The early 1990s was a remarkable time of growth and acceptance of the women's hockey game. World championships were created and later it would become an Olympic sport. A lot of that had to do with the incredible spotlight shone on the sport when Manon Rheaume, goaltender for Team Canada, attends the training camp of the NHL expansion Tampa Bay Lightning and starts a pre-season contest, making her the first woman to play in the NHL.
Gary Bettman Named NHL Commissioner: Fans may hate him, but very few people have had the profound - albeit controversial - effect on the National Hockey League as Gary Bettman. He starts the job on February 1st, leaving his job as vice-president of the National Basketball Association.
- The Montreal Canadiens win a surprise Stanley Cup, upending Wayne Gretzky in his only appearance in the Stanley Cup Final with the Los Angeles Kings. The Habs post a record 10 overtime wins (in 11 tries) en route to their 23rd Stanley Cup. Patrick Roy is the obvious choice as Conn Smythe trophy winner, but Vince Damphouse, Eric Desjardins and John Leclair power the offense.
- In many ways the 1993 playoffs were Wayne Gretzky's last great stretch in the NHL. He misses half of the regular season with a herniated disc in his back, but return with a 40 point performance in the playoffs, willing the Kings to the Stanley Cup final, defeating Toronto along the way in a most memorable playoff match.
- The Leafs were powered by Doug Gilmour, who shattered team records with 95 assists and 127 points. He won the Selke Trophy and was runner up to Mario Lemieux for the Hart.
- A major reason Montreal was able to make it to the final was the New York Islanders major upset over Mario Lemieux's Penguins. David Volek scored the stunning winning goal.
- Pat Lafontaine scored 148 points and linemate Alexander Mogilny scores 76 goals. They were a real treat to watch.
- The NHL had another 76 goal scorer this season - a rookie! Teemu Selanne of Winnipeg set a new rookie record that may never be matched.
- The Philadelphia Flyers traded six players, including Peter Forsberg, Mike Ricci and Ron Hextall, two first round draft picks and $15 million cash to Quebec to land phenom Eric Lindros.
- The Nordiques actually had two trades for Eric Lindros lined up simultaneously. The New York Rangers also felt they had successfully acquired the rookie. An independent arbitrator decided Philadelphia had properly acquired Lindros.
- For all the hype and hoopla, Eric Lindros faced nearly impossible expectations. Knee injuries limited him to just 61 games, but he did score 41 goals and 75 points.
- Ed Belfour continued to lead the Chicago Blackhawks, Norris trophy winning defenseman Chris Chelios really helped out too, of course.
- Pavel Bure excites west coast fans with 60 goals in Vancouver.
- Noted NHL brawler John Kordic dies of heart failure while in police custody. It is later revealed that alcohol, cocaine and steroids played major factors in his death.