That’s right, friends. That epic brawl/comeback win/vault into a hockey dynasty happened 15 years ago today. It’s really hard to believe that it’s been that long. I had just gotten my drivers license two days earlier. Bill Clinton was president. The Wallflowers “One Headlight” was the #1 song in the nation. If that doesn’t make you feel old, then you must be really young and I’ll have to insist that you GET OFF MY LAWN!
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No, but for real, get off my lawn. I just planted grass seed over by the rose bush and you kids are going to make me have to do it all over again. Bastards.
I’m not aging well.
Anyways, back to some hockey talk. If I had one complaint to make about this game it’s that Dave Strader called the brawl without Mick. Had it been Ken Daniels, or if Mick had been there, it would have been better. I think Dave Strader could win the lottery with a straight face. “And look who’s coming up the driveway now. Publishers Clearing House. Oh my goodness.” Yawn.
If you watch the game, you’ll remember how bad we treated Mike Vernon. Now, in defense of the boo-birds, Vernie had given up 5 goals on the first 15 shots he faced, so we had a point, but watching how poorly he played, it’s amazing to me that he ended up winning the Conn Smythe that year. He showed us.
Fedorov was awesome on the blueline, but despite Mickey Redmond saying “I think he likes it back there”, I’m pretty sure he hated it back there. That’s unfortunate because he could have won the Norris Trophy if he played a full season as a defenseman.
It’s weird seeing Holmstrom wear #15. It’s also weird seeing him take a slap shot (of sorts). What wasn’t weird was seeing him on his back taking punches. Amazing that he’s lasted as long as he has in this league considering he has to be the most unprotected player in the game. And of course the guy punching Holmstrom, the rookie, was Mike Keane who would say that Detroit had no balls for waiting to fight at home. It sure does take guts to punch a guy who’s pretty much defenseless. Besides, this wasn’t about seeing who had the biggest set, this was about vengeance, fool.
As for the fight itself, it’s frigging poetic. It all starts with Forsberg going after Larionov for no other reason than he thinks he’ll be any easy target. What a tough guy. But he caught Igor on a bad day, apparently. So the linesmen rush to pull those two apart, McCarty skates right into Lemieux and destroys him. Now, it could have ended there. Lemieux would have gotten beat up and Forsberg could have gotten a lesson in stepping on the wrong guy’s lawn, but then Patrick Roy joined in. That leads us to my favorite part of that entire sequence: The Clothesline.
I rarely ever see a good angle of this. It’s usually just McCarty pounding Lemieux, then glancing up to see Roy go flying. Either Roy didn’t see Shanahan, or he didn’t think he would do anything more than confront him and call him names. Wrong. Then Vernon shows up and is a third man in on Foote until Roy comes to his senses and grabs Vernon. Another surprise for Roy: Vernon can throw a punch.
Meanwhile, McCarty is beating on Lemieux like he wants his lunch money. How many games do you think McCarty would have gotten for this? From Shanahan, of all people, who helped prolong the beating.
This was the game that turned Detroit into a dynasty. They won the physical battle, the mental battle and the battle on the scoreboard. It may have happened 15 years ago, but it feels like yesterday. What was your favorite moment of that game?