The Stanley Cup: possibly the greatest of all trophies in sports.
Made of silver and nickel alloy, the cup has a height of 35.25 inches and weighs nearly 35 pounds – and players will do almost anything to hoist it.
Hockey has seen a great number of Stanley Cup champions since it’s inception in 1893, but in celebration of the Finals beginning this week, we’re cracking it all down into a compact list – the top 5 greatest hockey championships in the history of the NHL.
#5 2001 Colorado Avalanche
Both the Avalanche and New Jersey Devils were the top-seeded clubs from each conference in this battle that featured two of the best goalies in the sport: Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur. This series went back and forth until Colorado forced a game seven, shutting out the Devils in game six. This series was the first and most recent Finals since 1989 in which both number one seeds met in the championship. Roy won MVP honors after only allowing 11 goals in the seven games played.
#4 1950 Red Wings
An epic battle of championship starved proportions in this one. Both the Red Wings and Rangers hadn’t won in years and pushed each other harder and further than any two clubs probably had ever before. The Rangers won games four and five in overtime, but Detroit would even up the series after a game six win, forcing a final game seven that would go into double overtime. The game-winning goal was scored by Detroit’s Pete Babando at 8:31 of the second OT, and to this day is the longest game seven ever played in the history of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Red Wings also became the first team to win the Cup in overtime of a game seven.
#3 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs
This was a landmark series for not only the Maple Leafs, but for the sport of hockey. It was the first Final to go seven games and the Leafs were the first team to come back down three games to none. That’s right; three games to zero. The feat has only happened two times since, and never in the Finals. So how did it all start in ’42? Leafs coach Hap Day benched his best defensemen and star forward, replacing them with rookies who had contributed next to nothing during the regular season. Personally, I think the name Hap Day is awesome enough to garner anyone a championship, and the poor Red Wings never saw it comin’.
#2 1994 New York Rangers
The Rangers were facing Cinderella, also known as the No. 7 seed Canucks. Although New York erupted to a 3-1 series lead, Vancouver quickly rebounded, winning the next two games and forcing a game seven. Mark Messier secured the win in the final game, providing the winning goal and ending the Rangers’ 54-year championship drought. What makes the story even more legendary was Messier’s ‘guarantee.’ While being down three games to two against the Devils in the conference finals, Messier promised media the Rangers would still win. Down 0-2 in the second period of game six, Messier exploded for a hat trick in the third period, giving fans one of the most thrilling performances in the history of the NHL post season. The Rangers won game 7 of the conference finals in double overtime… all of this coming just days before their championship against the Canucks.
#1 1987 Edmonton Oilers
Easily considered by many to be the greatest Finals of all-time, the Edmonton Oilers won this one in seven games over the Philadelphia Flyers for their third Stanley Cup. It was the third straight year both teams finished the regular season with the two best records in the NHL, and the second time the teams faced off in the Finals in three years. The big win was during the hay-day of Wayne Gretzky, but despite losing, Philly’s Ron Hextall won MVP honors for his heroic effort between the pipes; showing just how hard fought this series was. Edmonton won game seven 3-1. It was the first game seven in the NHL in 16 years.
Photo Credit: AP