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Playmaker 01-12-2013 04:23 PM

94-95 Season.
 
Since I'm too young to have much of a grasp of this (I was twelve at the time and didn't really know much about the NHL beyond the thrill of collecting hockey cards) - what were the major storylines of the 94-95 season? Beyond being a lockout season, I mean.

I've got some that I remember myself:

- Lindros wins Hart, Jagr wins Art Ross.
- NJ wins the cup.
- Forsberg wins the Calder.

But beyond that, it's pretty much a blank.

TheDevilMadeMe 01-12-2013 04:27 PM

Detroit blew through the regular season and first three rounds of the playoffs and were being called one of the best teams of all time. Then they were swept by NJ in the finals. Some blamed the Red Wings for being too soft (the entire team looked scared after Scott Stevens' big hit on Slava Kozlov). Some credited/blamed NJ's innovative "Neutral Zone Trap!" (that was really just a minor variation of the old Montreal system that Jacques Lemaire gave a catchy name to).

Believe it or not, this was when Detroit was getting a reputation (started in 1994, continued in 1995 and 1996) of a major choking team - similar to the more recent Ottawa and San Jose teams, but even more dominant in the regular season. Obviously, Detroit turned it around big time.

Soundgarden 01-12-2013 05:26 PM

Before winning the cup NJ was speculated to be moving to Nashville.

Dark Shadows 01-12-2013 05:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe (Post 57488431)
Detroit blew through the regular season and first three rounds of the playoffs and were being called one of the best teams of all time. Then they were swept by NJ in the finals. Some blamed the Red Wings for being too soft (the entire team looked scared after Scott Stevens' big hit on Slava Kozlov). Some credited/blamed NJ's innovative "Neutral Zone Trap!" (that was really just a minor variation of the old Montreal system that Jacques Lemaire gave a catchy name to).

Believe it or not, this was when Detroit was getting a reputation (started in 1994, continued in 1995 and 1996) of a major choking team - similar to the more recent Ottawa and San Jose teams, but even more dominant in the regular season. Obviously, Detroit turned it around big time.

The old mentor vs his younger Student in Bowman and Lemaire. Bowman was going crazy angered about the clutch and grab in that series but the officials would not call it any different. It lead to a big crackdown the next year.

A lot of the wings forwards(And Paul Coffey) were angry after game 2 because Bowman would not budge on his stance of defense first and short shifts and let them open up and be creative(Most prominently Yzerman, Sheppard and Ciccarelli), when several of them thought it might make a difference as the current strat was not working.

Led to some animosity and trade rumors for Yzerman, and a few other guys actually getting shipped

TheDevilMadeMe 01-12-2013 05:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Soundgarden (Post 57491039)
Before winning the cup NJ was speculated to be moving to Nashville.

They were actually speculated to be moving to Nashville after winning the Cup too. There were definitely rumors that the defending Cup winner could be on the move. It could have just been a ploy to extort more money out of the State of NJ though - and I'm not criticizing the Devils specifically for extorting money from their state by threatening to leave - a lot of sports teams do it.

Hawkman 01-13-2013 12:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe (Post 57488431)
...Believe it or not, this was when Detroit was getting a reputation (started in 1994, continued in 1995 and 1996) of a major choking team - similar to the more recent Ottawa and San Jose teams, but even more dominant in the regular season. Obviously, Detroit turned it around big time.

Off topic, but before John Elway's Denver Broncos won 2 Super Bowls at the end of his career, they were considered a choking team just like the Wings.

Hoser 01-13-2013 01:33 AM

Three young goalies asserted themselves as their teams' "goalies of the future", and two of them came out nowhere.

Jocelyn Thibault was still backing up Stephane Fiset in Quebec but he was awesome. 12-2-2 in the regular season, 0.917 sv%, 2.34 GAA. Neither he nor Fiset looked good in the playoffs but that team collapsed; it wasn't entirely their fault. They looked damn good going forward, especially Thibault and that Swedish kid they got from Philly as part of the deal for Eric Lindros...

Blaine Lacher was a stand-out in the NCAA, winning the national championship in 1994 playing for Lake Superior State. He was 24, never drafted, and looked poised to turn pro. The Bruins bought out Jon Casey's contract in June of '94 and were hoping to come to terms on a new one for less money. Casey balked and walked, signing in St. Louis instead. Lacher signed with the Bruins as a free agent soon after winning the NCAA championship, the idea being he'd compete with the other Bruins goalies for a backup role and eventually they'd find another vet to be the starter. By the time the lockout ended they still didn't have another vet signed so they went with Lacher, who had a pretty good season. It looked like the Bruins had very easily, very quickly solved their goaltending problems. They lost in the playoffs to the eventual champion Devils, but Lacher looked pretty sharp for most of it. Their problem was offense; the Devils shut the Bruins out in three out of five games, including games one and two. Tough to come back after that.

The other young phenom goalie was Washington's Jim Carey. He was also a product of the NCAA (Wisconsin), although he had been scouted pretty highly and was selected 32nd overall by the Capitals in '92. Still, the Capitals had three good young goalies in Carey, Olaf Kolzig and Byron Dafoe, and Kolzig and Dafoe had seen some playing time behind former starter Don Beaupre; Carey had not. Beaupre was shipped out just before the season began so Dafoe, Kolzig and Carey would compete for the number one job. Carey won it handily. He was the AHL rookie of the year and goalie of the year that year, and after the NHL season started in January he went 18-6-3 with a .913 sv% and 2.13 GAA. The only guy who was better that year was Hasek.

But he looked a little shaky in the playoffs (although so too did Kolzig in relief).




The next year Thibault was traded to Montreal as part of the deal for Patrick Roy. He never reached the level he was expected to in Montreal (who would, being asked to replace Roy?) but went on to have a decent journeyman career.

Blaine Lacher stank up the joint in Boston. He was demoted to Providence by November of '95, and eventually the Bruins obtained Bill Ranford from Edmonton. Lacher never played another game in the NHL again. He signed a minor pro deal with the IHL's Grand Rapids Griffins in 1996 and was even worse there. He retired from pro hockey after the 1996-97 season, only a couple years removed from having been the Bruins go-to goalie.

Carey had a fantastic '95-'96 regular season, leading the league with nine shutouts and winning the Vezina Trophy in only his second season. But as shaky as he was in the playoffs in '95 he was even worse in '96. He stayed with Washington into 1996-97 but was mediocre at best; he was traded to Boston for Bill Ranford. He was even worse in Boston. He was let go in 1998-99 and signed with the Blues, who would give him one last shot. He appeared in four games, did very poorly and chose to retire, not even 25 years old at the time. (He retired almost 14 years ago and he's still only 38 today!)

Hoser 01-13-2013 01:44 AM

Speaking of Thibault and Quebec in particular this was maybe the biggest news in '94-'95 in Canada: two teams were leaving, moving south.

The Jets announced on May 4, 1995 that they could not find a local ownership group to take over from Barry Shenkarow, and that they would leave as soon as another owner was found and arrangements were made in another city. It was looking as though they would play in Minnesota the next year but the deal fell through and they limped along into the '95-'96 season still in Winnipeg. The stench of death followed them and Jets fans stayed away in droves, not seeing much point in supporting a team that was absolutely assured to be leaving at the end of the '96 season anyway.

The Nordiques were the top team in the East in the abbreviated regular season and despite the early playoff exit at the hands of the Rangers they looked like they had a bright future on the ice. But not in Quebec City. Less than two weeks after the Nordiques were eliminated from the playoffs it was announced that Marcel Aubut was selling the team to interests in Denver. Just like that the Nordiques were leaving.

Other Canadian teams weren't looking so hot either. The Senators were still brutal. The once mighty Oilers looked to be mired in a death spiral of their own, trading away top players and not having made the playoffs since 1992. The Flames still looked pretty good in '94-'95 (2nd in the West) but, for financial reasons, they couldn't keep key players like Joe Nieuwendyk, Joel Otto and Robert Reichel going into the '95-'96 season. Mediocrity had very quickly set in. It looked like there was a very real possibility that there would be only two or three Canadian teams in the NHL by the end of the decade, which seemed unfathomable only a couple years before.

begbeee 01-13-2013 03:05 AM

According to previous post, was not there also an issue with weak canadian dollar in mid 90s?

TTOMO 01-13-2013 03:53 AM

Keenan jumping ship from the Rangers to the Blues after winning the Cup.

Darth Yoda 01-13-2013 04:57 AM

Claude Lemieux showed in the playoffs who's the man. Totally awesome dude.

TheDevilMadeMe 01-13-2013 04:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darth Yoda (Post 57514873)
Claude Lemieux showed in the playoffs who's the man. Totally awesome dude.

It gets overshadowed by his goals, but I've never seen a better shadowing job than Lemieux on Cam Neely in the first round.

overpass 01-13-2013 08:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by begbeee (Post 57514177)
According to previous post, was not there also an issue with weak canadian dollar in mid 90s?

In 1991, the Canadian dollar was worth 0.87 USD. In 1994, it was down to 0.72 USD. It remained around 0.65-0.70 USD until it started rising again in 2004.

1994-2004 was a very tough decade for Canadian NHL teams.

mrhockey193195 01-13-2013 01:28 PM

What was the consensus opinion on Hasek going into the 94-95 season? He just came off of a historic year in 94 and a very good showing in the playoffs, but it was his first season as a starter and he was already in his late 20s. Did anyone think he was a flash in the pan? Did people expect him to be a top goalie in 95? And what was the opinion after 95, when he built on his success from 94?

vadim sharifijanov 01-13-2013 01:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mrhockey193195 (Post 57532053)
What was the consensus opinion on Hasek going into the 94-95 season? He just came off of a historic year in 94 and a very good showing in the playoffs, but it was his first season as a starter and he was already in his late 20s. Did anyone think he was a flash in the pan? Did people expect him to be a top goalie in 95? And what was the opinion after 95, when he built on his success from 94?

i would say yes, definite questions about him being a flash in the pan. similar to kiprusoff going into the post-lockout season, or brian elliott right now. at least that was my thinking. after the '95 season, it was like, okay this guy is going to be elite. no one was calling him potentially a historically good goalie yet though.

SnowblindNYR 01-13-2013 08:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by God Made Me (Post 57511331)
Off topic, but before John Elway's Denver Broncos won 2 Super Bowls at the end of his career, they were considered a choking team just like the Wings.

The Broncos though were beaten by much better teams. Detroit dominated the regular season and lost.

SnowblindNYR 01-13-2013 08:06 PM

I wanted to start a thread about this but this is the perfect thread on this. NJ was only 4 games over .500 in the regular season. Did they not play the trap in the regular season? If they did, why weren't they that great in the regular season and amazing in the playoffs? If they didn't, why the change?

reckoning 01-13-2013 08:47 PM

The main memory I have from that season was the complaining from everyone in the media about New Jersey and the "trap".

Mario Lemieux opted to take the year off. And while he was missed, his absence (combined with age starting to catch up with Gretzky) meant that there was actually a scoring race that went down to the wire for the first time in a long time.

It was also the first time in 25 years that Montreal had missed the playoffs. At the time that was just something that never happened.

Living in Ottawa, the biggest story about the last-place Senators was when Rick Bowness had become fed up with the attitude and work ethic of the teams two marquee players, Yashin and Daigle, and decided to make them both healthy scratches for a game in Tampa. A gutsy move that payed off when Ottawa won the game.

Mayor Bee 01-13-2013 09:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SnowblindNYR (Post 57555415)
I wanted to start a thread about this but this is the perfect thread on this. NJ was only 4 games over .500 in the regular season. Did they not play the trap in the regular season? If they did, why weren't they that great in the regular season and amazing in the playoffs? If they didn't, why the change?

Their scoring wasn't much of anything, largely due to their unusual inability to go on the power play.

New Jersey was 5th in goals against, but also had far and away the fewest PK chances in the league (149; 2nd place was 183). On the other side, they also had the fewest power play chances in the league. They were also below average in conversion percentages for both.

As the season went on and the officials put the whistles away, it suited NJ just fine. They were actually below .500 going into the 32nd game out of 48, but finished 10-5-2 and then rolled through the playoffs.

SnowblindNYR 01-13-2013 10:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mayor Bee (Post 57559195)
Their scoring wasn't much of anything, largely due to their unusual inability to go on the power play.

New Jersey was 5th in goals against, but also had far and away the fewest PK chances in the league (149; 2nd place was 183). On the other side, they also had the fewest power play chances in the league. They were also below average in conversion percentages for both.

As the season went on and the officials put the whistles away, it suited NJ just fine. They were actually below .500 going into the 32nd game out of 48, but finished 10-5-2 and then rolled through the playoffs.

But it sounds like the officials put away their whistles for the entire season. So what changed?

jigglysquishy 01-13-2013 10:40 PM

I was a diehard Jets fan growing up and I remember the dread following the '95 season. I was young (3), but I remember by Dad telling me the Jets might move and I couldn't wrap my head around hockey not existing.

I was young, but I damn well remember how hard the team leaving was.


Anyone know if there was speculation about Mario not returning? He only played 22 games in 93-94 and sat out 94-95. Couple that with a low PPG (for Lemieux standards) of 1.68 in 93-94 (down from 2.67 in 92-93) did people think Mario's career was done?

SnowblindNYR 01-13-2013 10:52 PM

I just thought of something. If Bowman's Habs played a trap, why couldn't he beat it with the Wings?

Hoser 01-13-2013 11:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by begbeee (Post 57514177)
According to previous post, was not there also an issue with weak canadian dollar in mid 90s?

Yes, it was weak (1 CAD = 0.72 USD at the time), but that was something of a red herring: in 1994 the Canadian dollar was worth about the same as it was in 1986, in the midst of a period when a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup seven consecutive years. Player salary costs were rising exponentially and frankly the Jets and Nordiques could not make enough money to continue. From 1992-93 to 1995-96 average team payrolls had doubled. The drop in the Canadian dollars relative value exasperated the problems in Quebec City and Winnipeg but that was not their ultimate downfall. Ultimately unsustainable player costs put them out of business. The same happened in Hartford.

Darth Yoda 01-14-2013 04:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SnowblindNYR (Post 57561923)
But it sounds like the officials put away their whistles for the entire season. So what changed?

Well, as Mayor Bee said they finished the regular season 10-5-2. Most probably they hit their game just in time for playoffs, lets not forget they missed it altogether the very next season. Also, Claude Lemieux was a playoff player and he had a particularly good one that season.

blamebettman* 01-14-2013 09:19 AM

The Devils were an eyelash away from the finals in 1994. It had nothing to do with the refs putting their whistles away...they were a good hockey team. Lou pulled off a couple of solid moves at the deadline to put NJ over the top. Shawn Chambers + Neal Broten


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