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Linseman turned tables on Potvin in 1980 Cup Final

Flyers center upended hard-hitting Islanders defenseman with perfect hip check

by Stan Fischler / Special to

Legendary hockey reporter and analyst Stan Fischler will write a weekly scrapbook for this season. Fischler, known as "The Hockey Maven," will share his knowledge, humor and insight with readers each Wednesday.

Once a month, he will let a picture from his vast collection do the talking in his "Picture is Worth 100 Words" feature. Today, he recounts the time Philadelphia Flyers center Ken Linseman got the best of a bigger player, New York Islanders defenseman Denis Potvin, during the 1980 Stanley Cup Final.


Denis Potvin of the New York Islanders was notorious during the 1970s and 1980s for his thunderous body checks. That's not surprising for a defenseman who was listed at 6-foot and 205 pounds.

By contrast, 5-foot-11, 180-pound Philadelphia Flyers center Ken Linseman made his living as a scorer by slithering past the human barriers presented by players like Potvin.

But as this photo depicts, there was a complete role reversal when they met face-to-face during the 1980 Stanley Cup Final. In this case Linseman was the body checker, sending Potvin flying with a classic hip check. Ironically, the hip check was one of Potvin's specialties.

But the big hit by Linseman didn't keep the Potvin and the Islanders from winning the big prize. On May 24, 1980, they defeated the Flyers 5-4 in overtime at Nassau Coliseum in Game 6 of the Cup Final to win the first of four straight championships.

Linseman did his best to bring the Cup back to Philadelphia in 1980, finishing with 22 points (four goals, 18 assists) in 17 playoff games. He led all players in assists during the postseason and finished third in points behind Islanders center Bryan Trottier (29) and forward Mike Bossy (23).

That's all-in addition to delivering one of the prettiest body checks of the 1980 Cup Final.

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