As the Lightning attempt to become the first team in 40 years to win the Stanley Cup three times in a row, Denis Potvin will be following his performances closely. It’s hard to capture the magnitude of the moment better than with the former defender of the mighty 1980s Islanders, who remain the last to accomplish the feat.
• Read also: “No Cinderella this year”
• Read also: Dream ending: Avalanche advantage
New York had just celebrated two wins in a row when in the spring of 1982, 40 years ago, they overthrew the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, Nordiques and Vancouver Canucks in quick succession and lifted the big trophy for the third consecutive year.
- Listen to Jean-François Baril’s sports column on QUB radio:
This dominion has never been exercised since. The Islanders also offered themselves a fourth consecutive coronation, as well as having their fifth opportunity slip through their fingers at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers in 1984.
After all these years, Potvin watches Tampa Bay and relives his memories.
Denis Potvin contributed greatly to the success of the islanders in the 1980s.
“When you already have two straight cups behind and find yourself back in the playoffs, there is a feeling of confidence that becomes unshakable after so much success. When you still win, there comes a time when you don’t even imagine for a second that you might end up losing, “said the Tree trunk the 68-year-old man when he joined Florida.
The islanders of the time, despite an excellent formation of champions, were not always scandalously dominant in the regular season. Prior to two of their four leagues in a row, they hadn’t racked up 100 points.
In any case, the team gave their best in the playoffs during those glory years, recalls the Hull native (now Gatineau).
“To overcome such long springs, I have always said that it takes courage, but above all discipline. When I talk about discipline, for me, it means that each individual must recognize their role and their limitations.
“It was useless for you to tell me that I had to create an attack. We had [Mike] Bossy and [Bryan] Trottier for that, but since everyone has done their part, there has probably never been a stronger defending team than us, “said Potvin.
Despite the fatigue
Whoever says three finals in a row also says a lot of hockey in the legs, which inevitably become heavy. This is why Potvin insists on the importance of everyone playing their part around the best players on the team.
“Our general manager Bill Torrey often said that you have to build a team for the season and a team for the playoffs. It’s a different hockey, a different preparation and a lot of different players have to make an impact, “he said.
Dynasty or novelty?
In the battle that begins tonight, some are pushing for the Lightning to confirm their dynasty, while others expect the Colorado Avalanche to lay the foundations of a new empire in turn.
Having experienced the transition of power between two dynasties, Potvin knows it is difficult to decide between the confidence of the champions and the appetite of the aspirants.
“The Avalanche will want to prove that they are the best team. Tampa has not yet received such strong opposition. I still remember that in the final, in 1984, we had just won 19 consecutive series and we had the same confidence. The Oilers were just ready for the changing of the guard.
“However, it won’t be a problem for me if Tampa wins for the third consecutive year, like we did back then. I appreciate the good hockey this team offers us, “said Potvin.
CHAMPIONS SEASON AFTER SEASON
Over time, very few organizations can claim the feat of having won the Stanley Cup for at least three consecutive seasons. Here, in the history of the NHL, are the only clubs that have carried out this great coup.
- NEW YORK ISLANDS (4X samples from 1980 to 1983)
- MONTREAL CANADIAN (4X samples from 1976 to 1979)
- TORONTO MAPLE LEAVES (3X samples from 1962 to 1964)
- MONTREAL CANADIAN (5X samples from 1956 to 1960)
- TORONTO MAPLE LEAVES (3X samples from 1947 to 1949)
* The Edmonton Oilers were the last to become finalists for three consecutive years, from 1983 to 1985, but lost on the first try.
Feats that make you forget about usury
Mark Messier, Kevin Lowe and Jari Kurri celebrate Stanley Cup victory with the Oilers in May 1990.
Participating in the third Stanley Cup final in three years certainly leaves its mark, but victory is undoubtedly the best recipe against suffering.
“All the pain goes away in the summer when you respond to congratulatory messages, rather than questions about why you didn’t win,” wisely pointed out one of the Oilers’ old glories, Kevin Lowe.
The defender of Lachute, in the Laurentians, was at the center of the Edmonton dynasty, which succeeded that of the New York Islanders in the 1980s.
The Oilers may never have won three Cups in a row, but they remain the last organization to appear in three consecutive finals. After missing the final against the Islanders in 1983, they recovered well by winning the championship in 1984 and 1985.
“In this type of situation, you have to keep every ounce of motivation. Whenever the media or a member of the other team questions how good you are, you insist on proving otherwise. It’s very special what the Lightning is going through, ”Lowe said.
A different time
The Oilers also had a chance to make a hat-trick in 1986, but the Calgary Flames had the upper hand in the semifinals.
“I remember some people talking about a hat-trick in 1986 when we were eventually eliminated by the Flames, but it wasn’t such a big story because the Islanders had just achieved the feat. Today for the Lightning, with all the years that have gone by, it must be huge.
“It was easy to believe that in the current era of hockey it would be virtually impossible to win multiple cups in a row due to the salary cap and Tampa is proving otherwise,” greets the one who was inducted into the Hunger Hall in 2020.
Perry and Maroon
13 Lightning players also took part with the team in the 2020 and 2021 finals.
That’s not counting Corey Perry, who is also in a third consecutive final series, he who was previously with the Canadiens and the Dallas Stars.
And we must not forget Patrick Maroon, who will experience his fourth consecutive final, having raised the cup with the St. Louis Blues (2019) and Tampa Bay.
overcome the pain
In this context, accumulated fatigue and injuries must be considered.
“When you go through such a situation, the physical and mental fatigue is eclipsed by the experience you’re going through,” says Lowe, however.
“Physical wear becomes difficult, but by dedicating yourself fully for a short time during the playoffs, you have a chance to rewrite history.
“It is very rewarding. You hurt everywhere, but as a player we dream of all these moments. First there are 16 teams, then eight, then four. You start to realize in the semifinals that everyone is watching you while the others are on vacation. Not bad cold “Concludes the former defender, without commenting on the outcome of the final.