A friend sent me this article this morning - it brought a tear to my eye... (a figurative tear... but who's checking?).
Canucks last Canadian team to appear in Stanley Cup final
By PIERRE LEBRUN
It just doesn't seem right that Canada hasn't had an NHL team in the Stanley Cup final since June 1994, when the Vancouver Canucks gave Canadian hockey fans quite a thrill in a seven-game loss to the New York Rangers.
Oh, what a ride those Canucks gave us 10 seasons ago, when third-year star Pavel Bure scored 16 goals in 24 playoff games and Kirk McLean was spectacular in goal to lead an unheralded squad that had stumbled to a 41-40-3 record in the regular season.
A late-season trade with St. Louis which brought offensive defencemen Jeff Brown and Bret Hedican and young centre Nathan LaFayette seemed to spur the Canucks.
It all started with a first-round upset of the heavily favoured Calgary Flames, who led the series 3-1 only to see the Canucks win three straight overtime games to take the series. Who can forget Bure's breakaway goal in triple overtime against Mike Vernon to win it in Calgary in Game 7.
Then came a relatively easy five-game victory over Dallas in the second round followed by a rousing five-game conference final victory over the hated Toronto Maple Leafs, an overtime goal by Greg Adams in Game 5 sending the Canucks to their second Cup final in franchise history.
And what a final it was. The Rangers were trying to end a 54-year Cup drought and the Canucks were attempting to win their first-ever NHL championship while carrying Canada's hopes.
Mike Richter's penalty shot stop on Bure midway through Game 4 in Vancouver sent the Rangers to a 4-2 victory and a seemingly commanding 3-1 series lead. But the gutsy Canucks, led by their leader Trevor Linden, rebounded with a 6-3 Game 5 victory at Madison Square Garden and a heart-stopping 4-1 win at home in Game 6 to force a seventh and deciding game in New York.
Suddenly the ghosts of playoffs past were haunting the Rangers, who couldn't bare another season of opposing fans chanting "1940, 1940." Mark Messier gave the Rangers a 3-1 lead at 13:29 of the second period of Game 7 and his team carried a two-goal lead into the third period. But Linden scored his second goal of the game 4:50 into the third and then the Canucks pressed hard for the equalizer, the young LaFayette hitting the crossbar.
The Canucks fell one goal short in a memorable Cup final that hasn't since been matched for its entertainment value.
"When I think about this hockey club, I'll think about their courage, their effort, their commitment to the fans ... for the rest of my days," said Canucks coach Pat Quinn said.