"It was the cornerstone to building the close, solid team that we have now," says Resch. "Shoot, we all made mistakes. It wasn't only Denny, it was all of us. We were all trying to get our feet on the ground, to create our own identity out here. I think we were insensitive to one another. I was as guilty as anyone. People would say to me, 'He's only 20. Or 21. Or 22.' I'd say, 'Shoot, that's no excuse.' He's done more than I had done at 25. I was stupid enough to think he should have been 25 when he was 20."
Says Potvin, "I felt as if I had had gallstones taken out. It made such a change, a wonderful difference. Guys I hadn't talked with in two years were coming up and talking to me. It's a world of difference now and it shows. The team is rolling now. There's a care. There's love for each other, I guess. If a guy makes a mistake, I have to feel enough for that guy to go and bust my butt to try and cover for him. The same applies when I make a mistake. I see it happening now. I make a mistake and I look around and two guys are covering for me. That's the way it has to be. It's such a comfortable feeling. You don't want to lose that. It's really the essence behind winning a championship."
Which is what the top-seeded Islanders hope to do in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Since they were launched seven years ago, they have had successively better seasons, winning more and losing less each year. Last season, his fifth with the Islanders, Potvin won his second Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman, and after his third 30-goal season in the last five years—Orr is the only other defenseman ever to score 30 goals—Potvin is a lock to win it again this year, the year "Orr did it..." died out and the Forum became just a building on St. Catherine's Street.
Potvin could feel the transformation becoming complete when Referee Bryan Lewis dropped the puck for that game in the Forum on March 22. Potvin says he simply threw off his paralyzing reverence like an old wrap.
"I was tired of it, tired of the mediocre play, bored with it," Potvin says. "I came out of it at the faceoff. I could feel it. I was mad, and not intimidated. The game I played that Thursday night was the first time I ever felt comfortable in the Montreal Forum. It was the first time in six years! At the faceoff I could have screamed. I felt like I could have done anything in that game. It was like being damned cold and jumping into the womb. You were nourished by the good passing, by the excitement, by the good plays, the good hits. And what better time to pull out of it than then, when everything was on the line?"