It’s been 30 years since the Calgary Flames downed the Montreal Canadiens to lift the Stanley Cup. It was a storybook ending for the team — which bears some surprising similarities to this season’s squad.
Global News has dug up 30 facts for each of those 30 years to tee up the 2019 playoff run.
1. No. 1 finish
There’s no better place to start than with the No. 1 team in the league. The 1989 Flames finished the regular season at the top of the NHL with an astonishing 117 points.
It’s a tough record to beat, but this year’s crew is coming in at a close second with an impressive 107 points.
2. Second woman on the cup
Next, we have the second woman in history — and the only Canadian woman — to have her name engraved on the Stanley Cup.
Sonia Scurfield was a co-owner of the Flames for nearly a decade, from the ’80s to ’90s, which means her name is listed on the Cup along with players and staff of the ’89 team.
Scurfield passed away in 2018.
3. Changing history
Despite what many say, history doesn’t always repeat itself.
The Flames were in the same position after the first three games in both the 1986 and 1989 finals: down two games to one against Montreal.
They couldn’t recover in ‘86, but found sweet victory in ‘89.
4. Sweet sweep
It took just four games to get rid of “The Greatest” during the 1989 playoffs.
The Calgary Flames ended Wayne Gretzky and the LA Kings’ season early with a second-round sweep that saw Flames fans celebrate an 8-3 blowout win in Game 2.
5. Undrafted underdogs
Both the 1989 and 2019 Flames feature a number of players that took an unusual route to the NHL.
Both teams have five players on the roster who were never drafted into the NHL, including big names like Joel Otto and current captain Mark Giordano.
6. Retro rink
At just six years old in 1989, the Saddledome was almost brand new when the Flames were on top of the league.
These days, it’s the third-oldest in the league.
Only the heavily renovated Madison Square Garden and Nassau Coliseum in New York have been around longer.
7. Save of the series
It took seven games to dispatch the Vancouver Canucks in Round 1 back in 1989.
Goalie Mike Vernon made an iconic save on Stan Smyl to keep the Flames alive during that playoff run, marking one of the most difficult series the Calgary team has faced.
8. Hall of Famers
Eight members of the ’89 team would go on to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Many are still household names around Calgary, like Joe Nieuwendyk, Lanny McDonald, Doug Gilmour, Joe Mullen, Al MacInnis, general manager Chuck Fletcher, goalie coach Glenn Hall and the irreplaceable trainer ‘Bearcat’ Murray.
9. ‘Oh Captain my captain’
The man, the myth, the moustache.
Captain Lanny McDonald, known for his moustache, finally lifted the cup after 16 seasons and more than 1,000 games with the NHL.
His final goal is a mainstay on retro hockey reels.
10. Conn Smythe champ
Gritty defenseman and 1989 playoff MVP Al MacInnis netted 10 points in the final series.
Old school hockey fans can appreciate his 46 penalty minutes, as well.
He won the Conn Smyth trophy, awarded to the series MVP, before the Stanley Cup was awarded.
11. Electric Avenue
In 1989, there was no place like 11 Avenue S.W. in Calgary.
Nicknamed Electric Avenue, it was the precursor to today’s Red Mile — and could be just as rowdy.
Fans gathered there before, during and after games to celebrate their team’s success and eventual win of the Cup.
12. Juggling jerseys
The Flames have made a total of 12 minor tweaks and major changes to their uniforms since moving from Atlanta in 1980.
It’s gone from the classic red with a flaming “C” to one that featured Blasty the flaming horse.
For the 2019 playoff run, the Calgary Flames will be sporting a retro look when they take to the ice.
13. Magnificent muzzies
Playoff beards are a long-standing tradition in hockey and 13 fantastic sets of facial hair can be seen in the Flames’ 1989 Cup-winning picture.
Lanny McDonald and team trainer “Bearcat” Murray appear to be pulling the weight for a then-baby-faced Theoren Fleury.
14. Fleury of a first season
Feisty forward Theo Fleury lived up to his No. 14 in his rookie year in 1989, scoring 14 goals across the regular season.
He added two more points in the final series.
Fleury went on to play for the Flames until 1999 when he was traded to Colorado.
15. Finals drought
There were 15 long years between Calgary’s Stanley Cup final appearances.
After ‘89, the Flames didn’t reach the big stage again until 2004 when they fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Fast-forward another 15 years to today, the team is back in the battle for the Cup.
16. Golden goalie
Montreal buried 16 goals through the final series of the 1989 playoffs.
They say, “goaltending wins cups,” and goalie Mike Vernon put on a performance, blocking shots and entertaining fans until the very end.
Vernon was a finalist for the Vezina trophy which is awarded to the league’s top goaltender.
17. Wheeling and dealing
A total of 17 players were traded, signed or dropped from the Calgary Flames leading up to the 1989 playoffs.
New addition Doug Gilmour changed the course of the team’s history when he scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal.
18. Overtime heartbreak
The lowest moment for the Flames in the 1989 finals came at 18 minutes, eight seconds in Game 3 of the series.
Montreal’s Ryan Walter scored in double-overtime to lead the series.
It was the only lead the Canadiens would get in the playoff run, with Calgary winning the next three straight games.
19. Young guns
Of the current Calgary Flames who played more than 15 games this season, 19 weren’t even born yet when the team won it all in 1989.
Some of the youngest players on this year’s team include Matthew Tkachuk and Dillon Dube.
20. Sin bin
A whopping 20 Calgary players went to the “sin bin” — more commonly known as the penalty box — throughout the rough-and-tumble final series of 1989.
Roughing was the most common call, with 41 calls through the six-game series.
21. O’ Canada
The ‘89 Calgary Flames roster featured 21 Canadian players and coaches.
Five players hailed from USA, Sweden, and then-Czechoslovakia.
This year’s Flames team features a nearly even split between Canadians and international players.
22. Run for the Cup
The Flames had to play 22 games in their quest for the 1989 Stanley Cup.
A team needs 16 wins to take home the Cup.
After taking down Vancouver in seven games, Calgary swept the Kings and it wasn’t long before they also beat the Chicago Blackhawks.
23. Calgary’s first
The Flames weren’t the first Cowtown team to compete for Lord Stanley’s mug.
That honour actually belongs to the 1923 Calgary Tigers. The team competed across four leagues in the mid-1920s and 1930s.
In the 1923-1924 final, the Tigers were swept by none other than the Montreal Canadiens.
One of three referees to officiate the 1989 finals was Andy Van Hellemond, who went on to enjoy a 24-year career with the NHL.
The Winnipeg-born ref was the first NHL official to wear a helmet.
Over his long career, Van Hellemond worked 20 Stanley Cup finals.
25. Lifting the Cup
May 25, 1989: the night it all went down.
The Flames ran out of beer celebrating on the flight back to Alberta after the Stanley Cup-winning game in 1989. It was a similar scene in back in the home city as fans turned out in full force in downtown Calgary to welcome them, and the Stanley Cup, home.
A parade wound through the city’s downtown later in the week to celebrate the historic win.
26. Young blood
The average age of the current Calgary Flames roster is 26.7 — just shy of the average age of players on the 1989 team, which was 27.
The oldest player on both of those teams was the captain — Lanny McDonald was 36 when he hoisted the cup over his head and Mark Giordano is currently 35.
27. Making the cut
Every hockey player dreams of having their name scrawled on the top prize in hockey. But hoisting the Stanley Cup doesn’t necessarily guarantee your name engraved on the side.
Only 27 of the 29 Calgary Flames on the 1989 team have their names engraved on the Cup.
Ken Sabourin and Sergei Priakhin didn’t play enough games to earn that honour. The pair did end up getting championship rings.
28. Lone Forum champions
The old Montreal Forum was a notoriously hard place to win.
The first time Montreal lost a Stanley Cup-deciding game at the Forum was in 1928 when the New York Rangers defeated the now-defunct Montreal Maroons.
The Calgary Flames remain the only team to beat out the Habs for the Cup on Forum ice.
29. Lucky skate
Joel Otto, who wore No. 29 on his jersey, is a man who some say may have the luckiest skate in the world.
Round 1 saw the league-leading Flames in dangerous waters versus the Vancouver Caucus in Game 7.
But it was Jim Peplinski’s shot that bounced off of Otto’s skate that would count as the series-winning goal. The goal was controversial at the time, as some spectators say they saw Otto kick the puck in the net, which is an illegal move.
30. True north final
It’s been 30 years since the Stanley Cup final was played entirely in Canada.
With the Montreal Canadiens eliminated from playoff contention this year, there’s no chance of a 1989 rematch. But with Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto are still in the running — the Stanely Cup showdown could still happen solely on Canadian soil.
The first game of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoff happens at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary on Thursday, April 11.
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