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92/93: Greatest Season?

Is Canada's Cup drought nearing 20 years a big deal?

Wednesday, 02.20.2013 / 2:51 PM / 92/93: Greatest Season?

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

Many believe the 1992-93 NHL season was among the finest staged in the League's history. From the addition of two teams through expansion, to the sudden prominence of European players, to the heroics of Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux, to the crowning of Montreal as Stanley Cup champions, the season was full of memorable moments. On its 20th anniversary, NHL.com will spend the year looking back at the key moments of that '92-93 season to see if it may indeed be the NHL's Greatest Season.

This spring will mark the 20-year anniversary of the Montreal Canadiens becoming the last Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup, a trophy originally donated by a Canadian governor general to the country he governed.

During the past decade or so, it has become a rite of spring to mark the elimination of the last Canadian team from the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a story about the country's Cup drought being extended by another year. But have Canadians actually developed a complex around this, or is it a story that doesn't ring true in the day-to-day lives of the Canadian populace?

Two researchers, who have conducted a number of studies regarding the attachment to hockey Canadians feel, don't believe the drought has much resonance among the population -- other than the fact it means the teams they root for haven't won the Stanley Cup.

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Selanne's record season saw hockey boom in Finland

Tuesday, 02.05.2013 / 9:00 AM / 92/93: Greatest Season?

Risto Pakarinen - NHL.com Correspondent

Many believe the 1992-93 NHL season was among the finest staged in the League's history. From the addition of two teams through expansion, to the sudden prominence of European players, to the heroics of Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux, to the crowning of Montreal as Stanley Cup champions, the season was full of memorable moments. On its 20th anniversary, NHL.com will spend the year looking back at the key moments of that '92-93 season to see if it may indeed be the NHL's Greatest Season.

Finland in November is a dark place as it is, but in 1991, it was darker than ever. The housing bubble had burst, several banks went bankrupt, and the unemployment rate shot from 3.5 percent in 1990 to 12 percent by the end of 1992.

And there he was, a 22-year-old, baby-faced part-time kindergarten teacher who had scored an incredible 36 goals in 35 games in the Finnish second-tier league, to follow up on his 43 goals in 33 games in major junior the year before. His club, Jokerit, had been on the brink of bankruptcy for years and was demoted to the second-tier league. In his four years with the team, Jokerit not only got promoted back to the elite league, they won the Finnish championship in 1992.

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Evolution of instigator penalty altered game

Sunday, 02.03.2013 / 10:20 AM / 92/93: Greatest Season?

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

Many believe the 1992-93 NHL season was among the finest staged in the League's history. From the addition of two teams through expansion, to the sudden prominence of European players, to the heroics of Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux, to the crowning of Montreal as Stanley Cup champions, the season was full of memorable moments. On its 20th anniversary, NHL.com will spend the year looking back at the key moments of that '92-93 season to see if it may indeed be the NHL's Greatest Season.

Ask a player, executive, fan or pundit about the NHL's instigator penalty and you're likely to receive a passionate opinion.

A form of the rule has existed as far back as 1937 -- "A Major penalty shall be imposed on any player who starts fisticuffs," the League's rule book read that year -- but it was before the start of the 1992-93 season that the instigator began changing and shaping the NHL that exists today.

"A player deemed to be the instigator of fisticuffs shall be assessed a Game Misconduct," became the official wording of the rule in 1992. It was most recently adjusted in 1996 to levy a two-minute minor, a five-minute major and a 10-minute misconduct to the guilty party. The rule was designed to curb fighting, which statistics show has steadily decreased during the past 20 years.

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Jagr's impact in Czech Republic exploded in 1992-93

Tuesday, 01.22.2013 / 10:00 AM / 92/93: Greatest Season?

Michael Langr - NHL.com Correspondent

Jaromir Jagr scored 94 points during the 1992-93 regular season. (Photo: Denis Brodeur/NHLI)

It was the first year in which Jaromir Jagr really became an NHL offensive superstar.

The 21-year-old Czech wing scored 94 points during the 1992-93 NHL regular season and showed the world he was ready to dominate the League in the near future. But from his own point of view, he recalls that year almost as if it was a disaster, and not only because it was his first NHL season that didn't finish with a Stanley Cup raised above his head.

"I'd rather erase that season from my memory," Jagr wrote in his Czech biography "From Kladno to America." "Until Christmas, I just fought myself. And January was even worse. I scored just three goals during that month and one of them was an empty-netter."

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Difficult '92-93 laid foundation for Rangers' Cup

Friday, 01.04.2013 / 10:00 AM / 92/93: Greatest Season?

Peter Draney - NHL.com Staff Writer

The 1992-93 New York Rangers stand as proof of the adage that it's always darkest before the dawn.

The '92-93 Rangers were a team laced with talented youngsters and experienced veterans who had lofty expectations after winning the Presidents' Trophy the prior season before a disappointing second-round loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. With the "19-40" chants growing louder with each passing season, Rangers fans were desperately hoping 1993 would be the year that would see the franchise end a Stanley Cup drought that had lasted more than a half-century.

Instead, things went horribly wrong -- and their frustration and disappointment only grew after the Rangers missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs and suffered a 26-point dip in the standings from the previous season. It was a season filled with disagreements, mainly between coach Roger Neilson and captain Mark Messier. By season's end, general manager Neil Smith had given the team a significant facelift, with numerous personnel changes that wouldn't pay off until the following season.

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Russian stars took center stage for first time in '92-93

Friday, 12.21.2012 / 9:00 AM / 92/93: Greatest Season?

Slava Malamud - NHL.com Correspondent

The history of Russians playing in the NHL has plenty of watershed moments.

There is 1989, when the first Soviet player, Sergei Pryakhin, officially was allowed to leave for the NHL, and the first defector, Alexander Mogilny, made his way to the world’s top league in a much more clandestine fashion. Then we have 1994, when the league honored its first Hart Trophy winner of Russian descent, Sergei Fedorov, and the Stanley Cup Final was first shown on Russian television, instantly creating hundreds of thousands of new NHL fans. That summer the first Russian names were etched on the legendary trophy following the New York Rangers' Cup victory.

Who will forget 1997, when the Detroit Red Wings, featuring the famed Russian Five, claimed the Stanley Cup and became, at least for a while, arguably Russia's favorite hockey team? It wouldn't be wrong to point to 2001, when a Russian finally heard his name called first at the NHL Draft, or to 2004, when for the first and so far only time Russians were chosen with the first two picks. Or, indeed, to pretty much every year since, as not a single conversation about the League's top stars nowadays possibly can proceed without mentioning guys who hail from places like Moscow, Yekaterinburg or Magnitogorsk.

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Mogilny found superstar status with 76 goals in '92-93

Saturday, 12.15.2012 / 9:00 AM / 92/93: Greatest Season?

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Alexander Mogilny may have been only 23 years old entering the 1992-93 NHL season with the Buffalo Sabres, but he was at a career crossroads.

With his controversial defection to the United States three years earlier, Mogilny was forced to adopt a new language and culture. That difficult transition was further complicated when the young Russian was forced to confront a profound fear of flying as well as an FBI investigation that resulted in the arrest and subsequent deportation of a colleague who helped him defect to Buffalo.

By the fall of 1992, Sabres general manager Gerry Meehan had surrounded his star winger with All-Star forwards Pat LaFontaine and Dale Hawerchuk, two world-class players who could keep up with Mogilny's breakneck pace. It resulted in a historic 76-goal season for Mogilny, a campaign that almost didn't happen.

Mogilny's issues with air travel and his former comrade inspired countless trade rumors. But despite numerous offers, Meehan refused to deal a potential superstar entering his prime.

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1992-93 featured unprecedented offensive explosion

Friday, 11.30.2012 / 9:00 AM / 92/93: Greatest Season?

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

The offensive numbers from the 1992-93 season are staggering compared to today's National Hockey League, a game that is considered faster and even more thrilling than it was 20 years ago.

"I'll say this -- the goaltending wasn't as good," Brendan Shanahan told NHL.com. "The coaching wasn't as thorough as it is now."

He might be on to something.

For proof, check out these stats and facts:

A record 21 players scored at least 100 points during the 1992-93 NHL season. The Pittsburgh Penguins employed four of them, including Mario Lemieux. (Photo: Getty Images)

* A record 21 players scored at least 100 points during the 1992-93 NHL season. The Pittsburgh Penguins employed four of them. Wayne Gretzky was not one of them for the first time in his career.

* A record 14 players scored at least 50 goals, including seven who never reached that milestone again. Pierre Turgeon and Mark Recchi did it for the only time in their careers. Shanahan's 51 goals didn't even put him in the top 10.

* A record 7.25 goals per game were scored.

* Eleven of the 24 teams had a power play that scored at least 20 percent of the time; by comparison, three of the 30 teams were at 20 percent or better in 2011-12.

* The League-leading 282 goals that Pittsburgh scored last season would have been tied for 18th in 1992-93, when the Detroit Red Wings led the NHL with 369 and the Hartford Whalers, a team that won all of 26 games, scored 284.

* Fifteen teams scored 300 or more goals in 1992-93, compared to zero last season.

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Walker NFL trade led Nordiques to Lindros deal

Friday, 11.23.2012 / 12:00 PM / 92/93: Greatest Season?

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

Many believe the 1992-93 NHL season was among the finest staged in the League's history. From the addition of two teams through expansion, to the sudden prominence of European players, to the heroics of Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux, to the crowning of the Montreal Canadiens as Stanley Cup champions, the season was full of memorable moments. At its 20th anniversary, NHL.com will spend the year looking back at the key moments of that '92-93 campaign to see if it may indeed be the NHL's Greatest Season.

Eric Lindros was a huge presence that loomed over the story arc of this magical season. Last month, NHL.com looked at his trade to the Philadelphia Flyers -- perhaps the biggest in the history of the League -- through the eyes of the Flyers. Now we look at the deal through the eyes of the Quebec Nordiques, the team that drafted Lindros No. 1, then used him to finish the foundation of a franchise that would grow into a dynasty after relocating to Colorado.

As general manager and coach of the Quebec Nordiques, Pierre Page was well on his way to the team's fifth straight last-place finish in the Adams Division during the 1991-92 NHL season, and the potential solution to that chronic problem was refusing to play for his team.

Page chose Eric Lindros with the No. 1 pick in the 1991 NHL Draft despite the fact the prodigy, playing for the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League, had made it abundantly clear he never intended to sign with the Nordiques. With Lindros biding his time in junior, the Nordiques were heading toward a 52-point season, their sixth straight losing campaign.

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In '92-93, LaFontaine's line was something special

Saturday, 11.17.2012 / 9:00 AM / 92/93: Greatest Season?

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Many believe the 1992-93 NHL season was among the finest staged in the League's history. From the addition of two teams through expansion, to the sudden prominence of European players to the heroics of Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux, to the crowning of Montreal as Stanley Cup champions, the season was full of memorable moments. On its 20th anniversary, NHL.com will spend the year looking back at the key moments of that 92-93 season to see if it may indeed be the NHL's Greatest Season.

During an illustrious Hall of Fame career, Pat LaFontaine had opportunities to skate with many of the NHL's greatest offensive performers.

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Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres