Represention with some frustration

With the All-Star game happening this weekend, I thought this would be the appropriate time to roll this out. Faithful reader Ryan, a Devils and Colorado Rockies fan (the NHL team, not the MLB one), made a trip to Canada recently. Ryan is a true student of the game, so he was amazed at all the history he encountered there.

This year, to coincide with the Montreal Canadiens Centennial celebration, the Hockey Hall of Hall rolled out a huge exhibit featuring all things Canadiens, such as Gump Worsley's pads, Ken Dryden's skates, Jacques Plante's collection of masks, and a Scotty Bowman bubble.. er, bobblehead. Since their last Stanley Cup victory was back in 1993, the Kings are also represented, although not entirely positive.

As noted by Ryan:

Even the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto can't let Marty McSorley's blunder go without comment. The McSorley mention, followed by the Canadiens winning the Cup, are the last two entries in a timeline wall display at the Hockey HOF to recognize 100 years of hockey (1893-1993).
The All-Star festivities this weekend take place at the Bell Center, in Montreal. And as part of the season-long Canadiens' lovefest, Centennial Plaza was opened in December 2008. Surrounding the plaza are statues of Montreal legends Howie Morenz, Maurice (Rocket) Richard, Jean Beliveau and Guy Lafleur, as well as plaques memorializing each of the Canadiens' 24 Stanley Cup teams.

But that's not all. Inset on the ground, among hundreds of fan-sponsored brirks are smaller plaques, commemorating one hundred greatest moments in Canadiens' history. And the fun doesn't stop there...

That's right, the controversy surrounding Marty McSorley's stick is considered one of the greatest moments in Montreal Canadiens history. If you remember, the Kings won Game One of that 1993 series, and were dominating Game 2. With less that two minutes to play in the game, and sensing the series was slipping from them, captain Guy Carbonneau and coach Jacques Demers attempted something that has stood the test of time as one of the cheapest tricks in the book, they called for ref Kerry Fraser to measure the curve of McSorley's stick. The rest is history.

The one thing you won't find at either the Hockey Hall of Fame or at the Bell Center is the stick itself, although it probably deserves to be in either place. Former Kings coach Barry Melrose told Times writer Jerry Crowe in November: "It's the type of thing that should be in the Hall of Fame, because it probably determined who won a Stanley Cup. I would think they'd have it."

Turns out, it's on display at Wayne Gretzky's Restaurant in Toronto. A November article in the L.A. Times tipped me off, and I shot them a phone call Friday afternoon. The article said that the stick gets rotated out as memorabilia gets shuffled around the eatery. But as I found out, the stick is now currently located in the bar, in a plastic case with the famous photo of Fraser measuring the stick.

Granted, McSorley's stick didn't cost the Kings the Stanley Cup, only Game 2. Back in the confines of the Great Western Forum in that series, the Kings played their best hockey of the season, as they battled back from deficits of 3-0 and 2-0 in the next games, only to be beaten in overtime in both contests. But the stick is considered to be a sore spot among Kings fans to this day.

And to have the incident on display as one of the greatest moments in Canadiens history rubs more salt into the festering wound. It'll be a constant reminder to all Montreal fans that it took a questionable call from a desperate coach in a last-ditch effort to try and stem the tide of inevitability, only to be rewarded with a bogus penalty, swinging the momentum in their favor for that game and possibly the rest of the series. Way to go, Montreal. Cry yourself to sleep on your 24th championship banner. /sarcasm

Yesterday, I came across this image of a Kings jersey encased in ice as part of the All-Star decorations surrounding the Bell Center. Nothing could be more fitting than a subtle tribute to that 1993 Stanley Cup, where the Canadiens froze the Kings in time 16 years ago.

A Los Angeles Kings sweather (jersey) is seen incased in a block of ice at the Lay's NHL All-Star Jamboree during the 2009 NHL All-Star weekend at the outside of the Bell Centre on January 22, 2009 in Montreal, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

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  • January 23, 2009 4:14 PM taz42 wrote:
    As I've said many times, many players were using curved stick back then. The nite of that game will forver be etched in my memory. The Habs needed Marty out of that game, as he was such an asset to Gretz. It was just simply a dirty pool call and I'll forever hate the Habs because of it. Booo Habs
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  • January 24, 2009 8:31 PM RB wrote:
    Matt, you did a very good job on a topic that's definitely a sore subject for many die-hard Kings fans. I reckon when Marty McSorley's name is mentioned, a true Kings fan still speaks of him like Red Sox fans talked about Bill Buckner's error in that 1986 World Series game (not the final game of that series). It took the Red Sox winning a World Series title in 2004 to seemingly put Buckner's gaffe to rest. The sad part about Buckner's situation is that he was a solid baseball player and had an above-average career (Dodgers, Cubs, Sox), but the error overshadowed anything else about him and ultimately defined him. That IS a shame. With McSorley, I sense he's often gotten a pass from Kings fans who might like him simply because he was always known as a tough guy and fought a lot. He also shadowed Gretzky once Dave Semenko's hockey playing days ended in Edmonton and when he came to L.A. in the Gretzky deal. The way McSorley being treated nowadays -- I see he's involved with the organization these days in a pretty visible way -- it makes me wonder why McSorley gets a pass when he wasn't that great of a hockey player.
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