While some people may look at the NHL Heritage Classic as a lesser event when compared to the more-hyped NHL Winter Classic, it does have a few things going for it. First, it’s taking place in late February, so playoff positioning is on everyone’s mind. Every game is a bit more important at this time of year, so the Heritage Classic will mean more by default. Second, it looks like we’re going to get pretty nice weather for an outdoor hockey game. At this point the forecast for Calgary on Sunday is listed as one degree Celsius and sunny. That’s much better than the rain we saw in Pittsburgh. Finally, the game will feature two teams that have a strong history with one another.
Rivalries have been showcased in most NHL outdoor games (Chicago/Detroit and Pittsburgh/Washington) specifically, but it’s a great selling feature for the upcoming game as well. While Montreal and Calgary are not typically thought of when discussing the NHL’s fiercest rivalries, at least currently, the two teams certainly have a rich history with each other.
Like most great rivalries, the Habs and Flames built their history in the playoffs. The two teams have met only twice in the postseason, but both of those meetings were for the Stanley Cup. The Canadiens and Flames meetings in the finals were the last two times that two Canadian teams met for Lord Stanley’s Cup.
1986 Stanley Cup Final – Montreal Wins In Five Games
This series is perhaps best known for being Patrick Roy’s rookie triumph. The now-legendary goaltender led his team through the playoffs as a rookie and won the Conn Smythe Trophy at only 20 years of age. Bob Gainey was the captain of the Canadiens team that iced an impressive 11 rookies that season. The victory marked Montreal’s 23rd Stanley Cup win. The Cup was won on May 24th in the Saddledome in Calgary.
1989 Stanley Cup Final – Calgary Wins In Six Games
The Flames returned the favour in 1989 by winning the Cup in the Forum in Montreal. In the deciding game six, Lanny McDonald scored the last goal in his NHL career in an iconic moment and Doug Gilmour scored two goals including the game-winner to give the Flames their first (and currently their only) Stanley Cup.
You can watch game six in its entirety on Google Video.
Like in many Stanley Cup Finals, the two meetings between Montreal and Calgary for the Cup got quite heated. In 1986, this brawl broke out between the two teams:
The 1989 Final had its share of anger as well:
While it’s unlikely that the Heritage Classic will feature a bench-clearing brawl (though you never know these days) it will certainly be a spirited affair. The Flames are currently one point ahead of Los Angeles for the final playoff spot in the West. While the Habs are in a more secure sixth place in the East, they don’t want to lose any ground this weekend. Ignoring all the spectacle of the game and the fact that these two teams are in different conferences, the history between the teams and the current situation they’re both in could likely lead to some fireworks.
Also, there will be donuts.