SI Flashback: Stanley Cup 1988
BLACKOUT TO SHUTOUT
Edmonton over Boston in four games
Conn Smythe winner: Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton
Edmonton swept Boston to win its fourth Stanley Cup and close the book on a most bizarre playoff season
By Austin Murphy
The sporting aphorism "I'd rather be lucky than good" implies
that you can be only one or the other. Because they were both, the
Edmonton Oilers found themselves drinking bubbly out of the Stanley
Cup last week for the fourth time in five years. The Oilers' 6-3 win
on Thursday night completed their four-game sweep of the
Boston Bruins and ended a bizarre NHL postseason that included
unusually rancorous relations between coaches and officials,
insubordinate clubs, striking zebras, an AWOL president, indoor fog
banks and a blackout ...
May 30, 1988 Paul Bereswill
Describing the blackout as "an act of God," NHL president John Ziegler
said he could do nothing "but follow our bylaws." By that
he meant NHL bylaw 27-12, which stipulates that in such an emergency
the game must be replayed in its entirety at the end of the series,
So the weary caravans repaired to Edmonton's Northlands Coliseum,
a clean, well-lighted place on top of the world ...
| Not meant to be for the B's |
Ah, yes, the blackout. The teams were 37 minutes into Game 4 on
May 24, the score was tied at 3-3, and on this night Boston looked
capable of filching a game from Edmonton. Gretzky seemed merely
human -- he had turned the puck over for Boston's second goal -- and
the pea soup in the Boston Garden was proving to be a better
equalizer than any meddlesome referee. Then suddenly, poof! A
4,000-volt switch overloaded, and the 59-year-old building went
Oilers ended up playing three of the first four games at home, where,
as Sather pointed out, the ice is hard, the electricity is reliable,
and fog is seldom a problem.
Game 5 -- some called it Game 4a -- was more coronation than
competition as the Oilers resumed their clinic on methodical,
disciplined hockey ...
Wayne Gretzky was on the sofa in the coach's office sipping a beer,
reflecting on the events of a remarkable year -- the win over the
Philadelphia Flyers in the 1987 Stanley Cup finals and now this one
over the Bruins, the victory over the Soviet Union in the Canada Cup,
a knee injury, an eye injury, losing the regular-season scoring title
for the first time in eight years, his engagement to actress Janet
Jones, his second Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs. How
would he top this year? "Maybe I won't even try," he said, smiling.
Meanwhile, Grant Fuhr sat in his long underwear in the weight room on
the seat of the Nautilus double-shoulder machine, a kind of impromptu
throne, and let the party play out around him. With a grin frozen on
his face, he spoke the words the rest of the NHL probably didn't need
to hear: "I could get used to this."
They said it ...
After the game, talk of an Edmonton dynasty was in the air, but
Edmonton GM and coach Glen Sather would have none of it. "It makes it sound like you're
bragging," he said. "When I think of dynasty, I think of Ming."
| Game "4a" earns Gretzky second Conn Smythe |
The Oilers were keeping the puck in Boston's end for minutes on
end. Fuhr was getting less and less work,
and Bruins goalie Andy Moog was suddenly very busy. At 9:44 of the
period, Gretzky stopped a 50-foot bullet pass with his right skate
and lifted the puck into a rather unguarded net. Score: 4-2 Oilers.
Then came the assist of the series.
With 10 seconds remaining in the period, Gretzky carried the puck
out of the Bruins' zone. As he crossed the red line, he checked the
clock. Eight seconds. "Shoot, shoot," the crowd screamed. He cut a
hard right at the blue line, cocked the hammer -- "Shoot, shoot,"
his teammates shouted -- and put the puck on the stick of forward
Craig Simpson, who had driven the slot. Simpson deftly deflected the
puck under Moog. Score: 5-2. Time left in the period: 00:02. The
Bruins' chances: 0.
"Gretzky's really going to be something when he matures,"
deadpanned Boston coach Terry O'Reilly.
Issue date: June 6, 1988
| Any way you like, Bruins |
[Ed. Note: Excerpts follow from SI's coverage of the first three games, well before the lights went out went out in the Garden, but certainly in time to see that the plug had already been pulled on the Bruins.]
All else having failed, the Boston Bruins had hoped a change of
rinks could save them from being blown out by the Edmonton Oilers in
the Stanley Cup finals. That notion evanesced in Game 3 Sunday
night as a surreal, Murders in the Rue Morgue mist, caused by 80
degrees temperatures in Boston Garden, swirled around the players'
ankles, sometimes floating up to their waists. The Oilers dominated
every aspect of play, winning 6-3 for an all-but-insurmountable 3-0
lead in the series.
"We have to play our hearts out," said Bruins coach Terry
O'Reilly, anticipating Game 4 at the Garden Tuesday night. "But you
have to be realistic. The Oilers haven't even been tested yet."
Edmonton had outskated the Bruins when they tried to skate,
outmuscled them when they tried to grind out goals. The only
remaining suspense for Wayne Gretzky and Friends was whether they
would sweep the Bruins and end it all in Boston. Of the three Cups
Edmonton has won in the last four seasons, none was clinched on the
Gretzky had helped break the monotony by showing up for practice
one day in Edmonton with a Billy Idol - Brian Bosworth brush cut that
left his not-so-small ears uncovered and conspicuous and his legion
of followers asking, why?
"I heard it's hot in Boston Garden," answered the Great One,
running a hand over the stubble on the back of his neck. "Hey, it's
just a haircut." For most of 1987, Gretzky had worn a style -- short
bangs, long in the back -- favored by indoor soccer players and early
'80s garage bands.
Their captain's coiffure was only part of the new look the Oilers
sported against the outmanned, outgunned and outclassed Bruins.
-- Austin Murphy
Issue date: May 30, 1988