Jean Perron and Mike Babcock each cut their teeth in the Canadian university ranks.
MONTREAL - By guiding the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup, Mike Babcock followed a script first written by former Canadiens coach Jean Perron in the spring of 1986.
Once Gary Bettman handed the Cup to Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom after Game 6 in Pittsburgh, Babcock became only the third coach in NHL history to lead a team to the Promised Land after having done the same in the Canadian university ranks. A former CIAU player in his own right, the former McGill Redmen defenseman won the national title as head coach at the University of Lethbridge in 1993-94.
The first to turn the trick was Perron, who won the University Cup with the University of Moncton in both 1980-81 and 1981-82 before leading the Habs to the Stanley Cup in 1985-86, his first year behind the Montreal bench. Perron will always be remembered for having rolled the dice and entrusted the Canadiens’ crease to 20-year-old Patrick Roy that year, with the unproven rookie going on to become the youngest player to ever win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP that spring.
The other university product to follow the path blazed by Perron was Mike Keenan, who prior to ending the Rangers’ 54-year Stanley Cup drought in 1994, claimed Canadian university’s Holy Grail in 1983-84 while with the University of Toronto Varsity Blues.