The dog days of summer are upon us. Generally in the summer we enjoy sitting back popping a cold one and taking some time along with a break from thinking about hockey for a few weeks. However this year, and maybe it’s because of everything we’ve endured the last 18 months, I just can’t get the NHL off my brain. I decided to put together a list and while we know lists are the gift that keeps giving I figured a deep dive on a Stanley Cup themed topic would be intriguing. I’ve been kicking around what I consider the top 10 Stanley Cup Finals over the past 20 years and while this list was extremely hard to whittle down I managed to do it.
On top of that, I challenged my co-partner on the Two 4 Roughing podcast to put together his top 10 as well. I am curious to see where we may differ and possibly match up in the process. In one way that I know we both will differ is that we each look at the Stanley Cup Final in a different light. I personally when making this list considered only the Final itself and nothing else with it. On the other hand, my partner in some areas looked at outside factors including the season that led up to the Final. I do have a sneaky suspicion that our top spot may just be right on the money for each other.
Starting with today it is number 10 on the list:
10) 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Detroit Red Wings:
About the series: The 2009 Stanley Cup Final was a rematch of the previous season which saw the Detroit Red Wings best the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games to capture their 11th Stanley Cup. The Penguins during the regular season fired head coach Michel Therrien and replaced him with Dan Bylsma. The team rallied off a record of 18-3-4 to close out the season and added key players in Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin at the deadline. On the Penguins road to their third Stanley Cup, they knocked off the Philadelphia Flyers in 6 games, Washington Capitals in 7, and a sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Why it is in my top 10: As a Rangers fan I didn’t enjoy watching the Penguins win their first Cup since Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr were the dynamic duo but this series was absolutely insane. My favorite part, as I’m sure everyone watching was, is game 7. There’s nothing better in sports than a game 7 and there’s absolutely nothing better than a game 7 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs let alone the Stanley Cup Final. The Hall of Fame star power on both sides was something to behold and for Detroit it was the final stand for the old guard. Even though they would continue to make the playoffs, they never regained their dominating power that they held as a contender since the 90’s.
For Chris’ Top 10 he starts with:
2002 Detroit Red Wings vs. Carolina Hurricanes
About the series: The 2002 Stanley Cup Final was the 3rd Cup for the Detroit Red Wings since 1997. After suffering a long drought of 42 years, the Red Wings would go on to become a juggernaut in the NHL under Scotty Bowman and a plethora of hall of fame talent. The end result would be Scotty Bowman’s 9th Stanley Cup and the club’s 3rd in 6 seasons giving them 10 in their franchise history. For the Carolina Hurricanes it would mark their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final as both the Hurricanes and Hartford Whalers. Seeing the Hurricanes in the Final relatively quickly since relocating from Hartford in 1997 was a punch in the gut for many fans of the old Whalers. The franchise had only had won just one NHL playoff series before relocating. The Hurricanes finished with the second lowest point total in the playoffs and had a Cinderella like run that ended as they were no match for the Red Wings.
Why it is in my top 10: The series itself was a classic case of David vs. Goliath. The Hurricanes found a way courtesy of Ron Francis to stun the Red Wings in game 1 but that would be the only victory the Hurricanes had on the ice. For the Red Wings the team was just too talented and loaded with championship caliber to be denied. From all the veterans that had won previously with the club to those brought in seeking their first like Dominik Hasek and Luc Robitaille the club had it all. To top it off we had legendary head coach Scotty Bowman winning his 9th Cup to surpass Toe Blake for most all-time.
The key moment for me is Steve Yzerman passing the Stanley Cup over to head coach Scotty Bowman for a lap on the ice. The Cup is usually more of a player moment especially right in that time but to see Bowman lace up the skates and take the Cup around Joe Louis Arena was a lasting memory.
What would you say is your 10th best Stanley Cup since 2001? Feel free to leave a comment below.
Tomorrow we jump right back into it with number 9 on our lists!Embed from Getty Images
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