The other cornerstone of Detroit's strategy was its dogging of 36-year-old Paul Coffey, the defenseman whom Bowman had banished from the Red Wings at the start of the season and then smeared before a Detroit-Philadelphia game in January. Bowman claimed that Coffey, the highest-scoring defenseman in history, doesn't help the power play as much as people think and that the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 1991 in spite of him. (Bowman was Pittsburgh's director of player development at the time.) The fact is, this season's Red Wings are the fourth team to have reached the finals or won the Cup within a year of trading Coffey. Bowman softened his criticism of Coffey a bit after Detroit's 4-2 victory over Snow in Game 2, but he never apologized. He had little reason to. During the Wings' two wins in Philadelphia, Coffey was on the ice for six of the eight Detroit goals and was in the penalty box for another.
Darren McCarty knocked Coffey woozy with a clean check in the third period of Game 2, forcing him to remain in Philadelphia for Game 3 with a concussion. Coffey, at last, was a stay-at-home defenseman.
Murray returned to Hextall in Game 3 (he said that starting Snow, who had been burned by a tiebreaking 55-foot shot by Kirk Maltby in Game 2, was "a hunch"), but the Wings pumped six past him. Detroit's skill--including solid goaltending by playoff MVP Mike Vernon, who stopped 102 of 108 shots in the series--seemed formidable enough even without factoring in Philadelphia's dumbfounding complicity.
For Game 4 the Flyers' team bus had a siren-wailing police escort to the Joe from the team hotel a half mile away. Maybe Detroit's finest just wanted to be sure Hextall showed up. Lidstrom put a 58-footer through his legs with 32.1 seconds left in the first period and the Flyers, despite playing their one creditable match, were finished. Just like Detroit's 42-year drought.