Tuesday, April 27, 2010
On this date in 1980, Al MacAdam scored a goal and an assist to lead the Minnesota North Stars to a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 7 of their Stanley Cup Quarter-Finals in Montreal, ending the Canadiens drive for a fifth straight Stanley Cup.
In 1976 the Canadiens dominated the regular season, finishing with a 58-11-11 record for 127 points to win the Norris Division by 42 points over the Los Angeles Kings and lead the NHL in points with nine more than the Philadelphia Flyers. Thier 58 wins and 127 points were new NHL records. Canadiens Right Wing Guy Lafleur lead the league in scoring with 56 goals and 69 assists for 125 points. The Canadiens cruised through that year's playoffs by sweeping Chicago in four straight, eliminating the Islanders in five and sweeping the defending champion Broad Street Bullies in four.
As dominant as they were in 1975-76, the following season of 1976-77 saw Montreal put even more distance between themselves and the competition. A 60-8-12 record gave them 132 points, 49 more than the Kings and twenty more than the Flyers in the race for the league's best record as they eclipsed their single season records for wins and points as they outscored their opponents by 216 goals, an average of 2.7 per game!
Lafluer captured the scoring title with 136 points from 56 goals and 80 assists. Steve Shutt's 105 points were third overall in the league.
The playoffs were more of the same, as it took Montreal just two games over the minimum to defend their championship, as they swept St. Louis in four, defeated the Islanders in six and swept the Bruins in four.
1977-78 was yet another dominant win for the Canadiens. Their 59-10-11 record for 129 points was best in the league for the third consecutive season and 51 points up on division rival Detroit and 16 more than second place Boston.
Lafleur again led the league in scoring, this time with 60 goals and 72 assists for 132 ponts, nine ahead of the Islanders Bryan Trottier. Jacques Lemaire's 97 were good for fourth overall.
In the playoffs Detroit fell first in five, the Habs ended the rival Maple Leafs season in four straight and once more defeated Boston in six to capture their third consecutive Stanley Cup championship.
The dynasty rolled on in 1978-79, but signs the Canadiens were coming back to the pack began to show. The Islanders pipped the Canadiens for the best overall record by a single point, 116-115, as Montreal (52-17-11) lost more than 15 games for the first time since 1974. Lafleur relinquished the NHL scoring title, as Trottier (134) and Marcel Dionne (130) surpassed his 129 points.
The playoffs though saw the battle-tested Canadiens dump the Maple Leafs in four straight for the second season in a row, outlast the Bruins by the barest of margins, as Game 7 went to overtime on a famous Too Many Men on the Ice penalty against Boston allowed Lafleur to tie the game with less than 2 1/2 minutes remaining. Yvon Lambert scored the game winner to return Montreal to the finals yet again where they won their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup, and 10th in 15 years, by defeating the New York Rangers in five by winning four straight after dropping Game 1 in the last cup final between two Original Six clubs.
Still a serious contender despite the retirements of Lemaire and Ken Dryden and a coaching change away from Scotty Bowman, the Canadiens won yet another Norris Division title in 1979-80 by 33 points over the Kings and finished third overall in points, nine back of Philadelphia. Lafleur led the club in scoring with 125 points while finishing behind Dionne and NHL newcomer Wayne Gretzky, who tied at 137.
With the four former WHA teams joining the league, the playoff format was changed and Montreal entered the playoffs with a 21 game unbeaten streak, and easily defeated the Hartford Whalers 3-0 to advance to face the Minnesota North Stars.
The North Stars had been one of the league's doormats since 1973. Their 13th place out of 16 in 1973-74 set the tone for the following six seasons, as they would only qualify for the playoffs once (and with a dismal 23-39-18 record!), getting ousted by Buffalo in two quick games in the best-of-three preliminary round. The low point came in 1977-78 as the North Stars finished in last place overall with just 45 points from an 18-53-9 record, 84 points back of Montreal.
Things were about to change for the North Stars, and in the most dramatic of ways. The moribund Cleveland Barons, who began life as the California Seals, merged with the North Stars, adding a number of key players to the North Stars roster in the form of MacAdam, Dennis Maruk, Greg Smith and Gilles Meloche.
Additionally, the North Stars last place finish allowed them to draft forward and future Hall of Famer Bobby Smith first overall and Smith's junior linemate Steve Payne in the second round. US Olympian Steve Christoff was also taken in the second round and joined the team following the 1980 Olympic Games. Future captain Curt Giles was selected in the fourth round and joined the club mid-season following a minor league callup.
The new reinforcements were added to an already existing core of Tim Young, Glen Sharpley, Brad Maxwell and Fred Barrett. While the team failed to qualify for the 1978-79 playoffs, they did improve by 23 points that season and another 20 in 1979-80 following the additions of draft picks Craig Hartsburg and Tom McCarthy.
The North Stars 88 points were good for third in the Adams Division behind Buffalo (110) and Boston (105) and they were paired up with the Toronto Maple Leafs (75 points) to open the playoffs. Three games later the Maple Leafs season ended and the North Stars advanced as the #6 remaining team to face the Canadiens juggernaut, seeded 3rd of the remaining clubs.
The upstart North Stars, with only one player over the age of 30, shocked the hockey world with a 3-0 shutout of the Canadiens in Montreal to open the series followed by a 4-1 win, also at The Forum. Montreal turned the tables by pounding the North Stars twice in Minnesota, 5-0 and 5-1 and took a 3 games to 2 lead back in Montreal after a third easy win 6-2 to restore order in the hockey world. In three games they had outscored Minnesota 16-3.
In a series that had yet to see a close game, the North Stars got up off the canvas back at home 5-2 to force a seventh and deciding game back in The Forum on Canadiens home ice where they had gone 30-5-3 during the regular season and were riding a streak of 13 straight playoff series wins.
17,465 faithful filling the building to the rafters.
"The Drive for Five" on the line.
Montreal opened the scoring of the deciding game at 9:12 of the first period on a Mark Napier goal but Montreal goaltender Denis Heron misplayed a shot meant to ring around behind his goal, and when the puck hit his own net and deflected out front, Tom Younghans was able to knock it into the unguarded net for a shorthanded goal at 14:43 of the first.
Minnesota took the lead at 16:46 of the second period on the power-play but Rod Langway evened the score at 5:23 of the third. The North Stars, even in shots on goal through two periods, were badly outshooting Montreal in the third period and finally were rewarded when Bobby Smith broke in wide on the left side. He centered a pass, which was tipped toward the net by Payne. Herron got his arm on it and, while the puck was still about four inches off the ice, MacAdam got his stick on it and swatted it into the net with 1:26 remaining in the series.
Minnesota held on, behind the goaltending of Meloche and MacAdam's timely offensive contributions, to win the game 3-2 and end the Canadiens dynasty at four straight Stanley Cups, clearing the way for the rise of the New York Islanders dynasty of their own.
Today's featured jersey is a 1979-80 Minnesota North Stars Al MacAdam jersey as worn when he ended the Montreal Canadiens dynasty in Game 7. Notice the treatment of MacAdam's name on the back, with it split into two distinct sections, rather than all capital letters or making it one continuous name with the "AC" smaller than the rest of the name. This style is from the third generation of North Stars jerseys out of the five basic styles they used throughout their history.
Here is footage of Denis Heron misplaying the puck, which resulted in the first North Stars goal of the game.