Mike Modano and his Dallas Stars crushed the hearts of Buffalo Sabres fans one summer night in June 1999.
Do you need something to distract you from the stifling heat?
I’ve been enjoying the offering of 35 years of Stanley Cup Finals on the NHL Network. What they’ve done in their Raising the Cup series, is to take the Cup-clinching game of each year and show it in its entirety. True greatness! (Although not shown in Canada.)
We’ve been able to see some of these games before on their Vintage Games series, but the games are always compressed and chopped up. So when I see that they have five hours dedicated on August 6 for the 1999 game, excuse me while I get a little excited. Few, if any, have that entire game on DVD. Now, because of the NHL Network, we’ll have a chance to throw away our deteriorating VHS tapes of that triple-overtime fingerbiter.
I’ve watched bits and parts of most of the games, including the North Stars loss in 1981 to the Islanders and the 1991 loss to the Penguins. Why? Because they are moments of time that my favorite team will never get back. How great was it to see rookie Dino Ciccarelli, or a young Mike Modano weaving his way through defenders? To see Neal Broten as captain still encouraging his clearly outmanned team?
And what Canucks fan wouldn’t want to see the beloved Trevor Linden single-handedly almost beating the Rangers? Or a Blackahawks fan watch Chris Chelios in his full glory almost decapitating Larry Murphy, or the skinny kid Roenick try to get a puck past Barraso? Even though you know your team didn’t win, how great is it to see your favorite players back in their prime? AND… still on your team!
To me, the worst part of this series has been some of the game presentations. Sometimes you get the CBC coverage, but there have been MSG, and Pittsburgh feeds also. Brutal … that’s all I can say about those Pens’ feeds. Especially against the Blackhawks. Blech! Talk about homers! It makes today’s Avs and Ducks guys seem tame in comparison. (oh, and Jack Edwards, I miss the OLD you!)
Tom Mees former ESPN SportsCenter anchor and hockey play-by-play man.
My favorite game so far has been the 1993 Kings/Canadiens game with the ESPN feed. It wasn’t seeing all the Habs players who ended up in Dallas, or seeing Denis Savard’s eyes glistening as he stood behind the bench, or even Barry Melrose’s superior mullet. Nope, it was seeing Tom Mees again.
Who is Tom Mees you might ask? Tom was hockey on ESPN. He was one of the original Sports Center anchors, but when the NHL started on ESPN in 1987, he became their chief play-by-play guy. He was also instrumental in furthering NCAA hockey coverage, as well as bringing the Frozen Four to national prominence. Unfortunately, Tom died in 1996 of an accidental drowning. During the work stoppage, I often wondered what role his voice could have had in ending that madness sooner.
A few other goodies gleaned from the broadcast?
- That Patrick Roy was about to become the first $3 million goalie.
- That ESPN2 was about to be up and running.
- The interview with Brian Bellows where he talked about how happy he was to win the Cup, but that he wished he could have won it two years earlier for the fans of Minnesota. I may have teared up at that.
So thank you NHL Network for sharing these full game gems with us. I’ll be watching for 1999 and 2000, even though the latter didn’t turn out the way I would have liked.
P.S. This is a tough week for my old Norris Division heart. Congrats to Marty Turco, and a possible congrats to Modano, who I hear is about to sign a deal with the anti-Christ. Patrick Kane is going to score a gazillion goals with Marty’s puckhandling skills, and Mike??? Continue being you.
Photos: Mike Modano from Getty Images; Tom Mees from Wiki Commons.