When I think of the Calgary Flames, who are in town to play Montreal tonight, several things come to mind straight away.
In the 2004 finals, I was cheering badly, desperately not wanting to see a team from Tampa win the Cup. The Flames were screwed over big time in Game 6 of those finals, when officials completely missed a chance review a Martin Gelinas shot that skimmed just under Nikolai Khabibulin's pad past the goal line.
The third period goal would have given the Flames the lead at a crucial time in the contest. Had they held on, it would have been game over for Tampa. A different camera angle caught the puck, clearly in the white behind the goal line five minutes too late. and the Lightning went on to tie the game and sending it into overtime. Tampa wound up winning Games 6 & 7 and the Cup in the process.
Not to take away any merit from a hardworking Lightning bunch, but there ought to be a Stanley Cup Champions 2004 banner hanging from the roof in Calgary, next their lone 1989 one.
The Flames and Canadiens have been invlved in the last two all - Canadian Cup finals, in 1989 and 1986.
In 1989, in coach Pat Burns' rookie season behind the Canadiens' bench, the Habs lost a Stanley Cup on Forum ice for the only time in their existence. It was bittersweet defeat for the Habs and their fans, but cleary a loaded Calgary squad was superior in almost every aspect.
The 1989 Cup was Calgary's revenge for 1986, when after finding a way to dump the Oilers, the Canadiens and Patrick Roy seemingly came out of the hockey hinterlands that spring to cancel out the Flames in five quick games.
Who can forget the overtime goal in Game 2, scored by Brian Skrudland, nine second into extra play?
For most of this generation of Habs fans, that season is perhaps their Canadiens watershed moment. Montreal, after years of Islander and Oiler dominance, were back on top of the hockey world, albeit briefly. They would of course reach that final again three seasons later, before heading back to win it all in 1993. This was the last period that the Canadiens stood amongst the league elite.
We'll always have the Flames to thank for those great memories, with an ackowleging nod to Steve Smith. Calgary has always brought the best out in the Canadiens.
Somewhere in my collection of Habs memorabillia, lies a copy of the 1986 Sports Illustrated issue with Larry Robinson holding the Cup high above his head at Calgary's Saddledome. Luckily, I was able to access the actual pages online for reprint here. The print text is small, but clicking on them enlarges the page for better reading. Enjoy the flashback!
Just for fun, here's a list of 29 former Flames and Canadiens who have worn both the burning "C" and the "CH" in their time.
Steve Begin, Randy Bucyk, Valeri Bure, Mike Cammalleri, Andrew Cassels, Eric Charron, Guy Charron, Tom Chorske, Craig Conroy, Jim Dowd, Brian Engblom, Doug Gilmour, Roman Hamrlik, Mark Lamb, Eric Landry, Gary Leeman, Jocelyn Lemieux, Bill Lindsay, Bob Murdoch, Ric Nattress, Yves Racine, Rob Ramage, Doug Risebrough, Yves Sarault, Todd Simpson, Brian Skrudland, Alex Tanguay, Rick Wamsley, Zarley Zalapski.
Below: A post game brawl from 1986 and the Flames Cup win in1989