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(Page 3 of 3)
92/93: Greatest Season?

'92 Draft remembered for influx of Eastern Europeans

Friday, 11.09.2012 / 3:00 AM / 92/93: Greatest Season?

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

With the No. 17 pick at the 1981 NHL Draft, the Buffalo Sabres selected wing Jiri Dudacek, the son of a high-ranking member of Czechoslovakia's Communist Party. Despite the Sabres' best efforts to bring over the young star, Dudacek never played a game with Buffalo.

For NHL general managers, it was the latest reminder not to waste a high pick on a player from a communist country.

During the Cold War, when players from the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia were restricted by their governments from playing professionally in the West, it was next to impossible for a team to add these players to its roster. If a team wanted to risk it, it could use a 10th- or 11th-round selection on a player from behind the Iron Curtain, but never a top pick.

That all changed in 1992.

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Twenty years later, 'The Mighty Ducks' remains classic

Saturday, 10.27.2012 / 9:00 AM / 92/93: Greatest Season?

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

In October 1992, a pack of ragtag hockey brats became a box-office hit, inspiring two sequels, countless toys, an animated series, and -- in an unprecedented moment in sports history -- an NHL franchise.

As with most classic films, "The Mighty Ducks" started with an out-of-work writer in his apartment.

Twenty years after its release as a box-office hit, Disney's 'The Mighty Ducks' remains a classic sports film series. (Photo Credit: Walt Disney Home Video)

"I was a young, unemployed writer and had just moved to Hollywood. I was thinking about my youth hockey experiences in upstate New York," Steven Brill, who also wrote both "Mighty Ducks" sequels, said. "Since I didn't have a job, I would waste my time by skating at the rink. My roommate and I would go and skate to kill time."

Brill's roommate and skating partner, Peter Berg, now is one of Hollywood's biggest directors, with films  "Friday Night Lights" and "Hancock" on his resume. Back then, the pair would satisfy their hockey fix by skating at the local rink and going to Los Angeles Kings games. All that inspiration helped Brill write his script for "The Mighty Ducks."

A year later, the Kings traded for Wayne Gretzky.

"I wrote it in 1987. It was right before the Gretzky trade," Brill told NHL.com. "When the Gretzky trade happened, it probably did help a lot."

Almost overnight, Los Angeles caught Gretzky fever and executives at Walt Disney Studios became very enthusiastic about Brill's script.

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Part 1: Lindros trade shook foundations of NHL

Saturday, 10.13.2012 / 9:00 AM / 92/93: Greatest Season?

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Eric Lindros was perhaps the most heralded junior-hockey player in history -- at just 18 years old, he was 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds. With a blend of dominant skill and overwhelming size and strength, many had pegged him as the next great NHL superstar, following closely in the footsteps of Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.

Taken by the Quebec Nordiques with the first pick of the 1991 NHL Draft, Lindros resisted signing with the club. He spent the 1991-92 season playing junior hockey and skating for Canada at the 1992 World Junior Championship and the 1992 Olympics. Lindros reiterated to the Nordiques that he would play outside the NHL in 1992-93 and re-enter the draft in 1993.

Faced with the option of losing Lindros with no compensation, the Nordiques began entertaining offers for Lindros' rights, with the culmination of that effort set for the 1992 NHL Draft in Montreal.

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Lindros deal changed how NHL trades are made

Saturday, 10.13.2012 / 9:00 AM / 92/93: Greatest Season?

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

When Russ Farwell was hired as general manager by the Philadelphia Flyers in 1990, the world he entered was a far different one than what exists today in many aspects.

One of them was as simple as how a trade is made.

"Trades were still done just on your word," Farwell told NHL.com. "You talk about it, you'd agree and the deal was made."

That all changed in June 1992, when the Quebec Nordiques famously traded the rights to Eric Lindros twice on the same day.

Farwell and the Flyers believed they had a deal worked out with the Nordiques for Lindros' rights, sending a package of five players, two draft picks and $15 million to Quebec. However, the Nordiques used that package as a bargaining chip to get what they believed was a better deal from the New York Rangers.

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Esposito's efforts paid off in expansion to Tampa Bay

Sunday, 10.07.2012 / 9:00 AM / 92/93: Greatest Season?

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

When the National Hockey League wanted to expand for the 1992-93 season, Phil Esposito put everything he had into convincing a lot of people that hockey in Florida could work. It was a tiresome and expensive process.

"I had to convince a lot of people ... it was grueling," the Hockey Hall of Famer told NHL.com. "It cost me a marriage, it cost me every penny I ever had. But it was all worth it. That's the way I look at it.

"It was my idea right from the get-go. It was probably the greatest thing I ever did in the game of hockey. I was out of my element, and I started a brand-new franchise in a state that everybody thought I was nuts to try and start it in. And we got it accomplished."

It took the backing of some Japanese investors to help Esposito make hockey in the Sunshine State a reality. Golf resort operator Kokusai Green was the driving force, as he and Esposito's group -- which included former New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner -- were willing to pay the NHL's $50 million expansion fee to create the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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Unexpected start, long season in return to Ottawa

Friday, 09.28.2012 / 9:00 AM / 92/93: Greatest Season?

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

Would you believe a pickup hockey game and some cold beers in the locker room afterward helped bring an NHL team back to Ottawa?

Cyril Leeder said the genesis of the idea occurred in the "true Canadian style" in January 1988 as he enjoyed some cold ones at Lyons Arena with Bruce Firestone and Randy Sexton. They were executives at Terrace Investments, a real estate development company, and would be the principals involved in changing the sports landscape in Ontario forever.

"We're having a beer in the dressing room," Leeder said, "and Bruce thought the League expanded on a fairly regular basis and it had been a while since they expanded and they likely would be expanding soon and that Ottawa should get a team and our firm should lead the charge.

"The next two years, we were basically hard at it trying to pull together a bid and support for a hockey team in Ottawa."

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Part 1: Manon Rhéaume shatters the gender barrier

Sunday, 09.23.2012 / 3:03 AM / 92/93: Greatest Season?

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

On Sept. 23, 1992, Manon Rhéaume became the first woman to play in any of the major professional North American sports leagues when she appeared for a period in an exhibition game for the Tampa Bay Lightning against the St. Louis Blues. Leading the Lightning onto the ice in the franchise's first home game against a veteran-laden Blues squad, Rhéaume stopped seven of nine shots and left the game after one period with the score tied 2-2.

Though Rhéaume would never see another minute of NHL action -- and despite the fact she was brought in largely as a publicity stunt -- her presence at Lightning training camp in 1992 provided a massive boost to women's hockey and inspired a generation of girls to pick up the sport, a growth that has continued unabated for the past 20 years.

Today, Rhéaume is a hockey mom living in Northfield, Mich., following her two sons from arena to arena as they chase their own hockey dreams. She also started the Manon Rhéaume Foundation to help girls reach their athletic goals and encourage them to participate in sports.

On this 20th anniversary of Rhéaume's historic game, NHL.com takes a look back at one of hockey's most unforgettable moments through the eyes of people who lived it.

Part 1: Rhéaume starts her journey

Manon Rhéaume, Tampa Bay goaltender

"I played in one Major Junior game with Trois-Rivières [in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League], but I was their third goaltender so I was practicing with them sometimes during the year while I was playing Junior A in Louiseville that season. I was backing up Jocelyn Thibault in that game, I think, and we were winning by a big score. But when they started coming back, the coach looked at me and sent me in net. I think I finished the second period and I started the third, but I got a slap shot in the third period and it cut my mask. My cage broke and it cut my eye. As I'm playing, I could barely see because the blood was coming in my eye, but I didn't know I was cut at the time and I was wondering what was going on. I kept playing until the whistle, and when the whistle blew I took my helmet off and I had blood all over me. They had to take me out of the game to get stitches."

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Part 2: Rhéaume arrives at Lightning training camp

Sunday, 09.23.2012 / 3:02 AM / 92/93: Greatest Season?

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

On Sept. 23, 1992, Manon Rhéaume became the first woman to play in any of the major professional North American sports leagues when she appeared for a period in an exhibition game for the Tampa Bay Lightning against the St. Louis Blues.

On this 20th anniversary of her historic game, NHL.com takes a look back at one of hockey's most unforgettable moments through the eyes of people who lived it.

Part 2: Rhéaume arrives at training camp

Manon Rhéaume, Tampa Bay goaltender

"The first day of camp when we did the fitness testing was the most embarrassing moment because they lost my luggage, but people didn't know that. I had all this stuff that Reebok sent me to wear for the fitness testing, but I didn't have my luggage so I went to see Phil and he told me to go see his daughter. I went to see her and she gave me a pair of shorts, except she was probably a size 0 and I wasn't a size 0. They were jean shorts and I could barely fit in them, they were skin tight on me. And they had T-shirts made for the team that said 'Real men wear black.' So now I'm wearing a 'Real men wear black' T-shirt and skin-tight jean shorts showing up with dress shoes because I didn't have my running shoes for the fitness testing. Every time I introduced myself to someone, I had to tell them, 'They lost my luggage and this is what they gave me.' It was really embarrassing.

"I can just picture the guys hearing that a girl would be there, and she shows up dressed like that. I can only imagine the comments they had."

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Part 3: Rhéaume first woman to play in NHL game

Sunday, 09.23.2012 / 3:01 AM / 92/93: Greatest Season?

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

On Sept. 23, 1992, Manon Rhéaume became the first woman to play in any of the major professional North American sports leagues when she appeared for a period in an exhibition game for the Tampa Bay Lightning against the St. Louis Blues.

On this 20th anniversary of her historic game, NHL.com takes a look back at one of hockey's most unforgettable moments through the eyes of people who lived it.

Part 3: Rhéaume plays in an NHL game

Wendell Young, Tampa Bay goaltender

"The way she played in training-camp scrimmages and practices, she warranted to play in a game. I don't think the Espositos would have put her in otherwise. I know everyone was nervous for her playing in an NHL game and taking that next step up. I remember coming into the rink and the Espositos were nervous because they didn't want her to be embarrassed or the organization to be embarrassed because it didn't go well in the game. They were talking about having her play in the third period or the second half of the game. I was the other goalie that night and I said, 'Just start her, don't let her sit around and ponder on the bench and sit around for two hours and then put her in. Just let her start and we'll see how it goes.' She went in and played unbelievable."

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Part 4: Rhéaume's appearance still inspires others

Sunday, 09.23.2012 / 3:00 AM / 92/93: Greatest Season?

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

On Sept. 23, 1992, Manon Rhéaume became the first woman to play in any of the major professional North American sports leagues when she appeared for a period in an exhibition game for the Tampa Bay Lightning against the St. Louis Blues.

On this 20th anniversary of her historic game, NHL.com takes a look back at one of hockey's most unforgettable moments through the eyes of people who lived it.

Part 4: Rhéaume's legacy lives on

Manon Rhéaume, Tampa Bay goaltender

"After that, as far as reflecting on the importance of that game, how it would affect my life, how it would affect other people's lives -- I had no clue. It just went so fast. I had to face the media; I've never seen so many media for one hockey game. The questions started fine, but eventually they just got silly and people were just looking for things to be negative about. After that, it was just surreal, because it was everywhere. You turn the channel and you see yourself on TV, you're getting phone calls, you're getting more fan mail. I don't think I ever really had a time where I could reflect on that game after that."

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I've been getting frustrated lately, and the only thing keeping me sane was the team winning and other people stepping up and scoring. Then you just kind of let it go and realize you can end the series with one shot, that frustration goes away for a brief moment, and that's what happened.

— Montreal forward Max Pacioretty after scoring the OT winner in Game 4 -- his first career playoff goal -- to eliminate the Lightning and send the Canadiens into the second round