I have mixed feelings about this. No, wait — I don’t. It just makes me hate Montreal more. I guess I’m not surprised. But it is kind of disgusting.
“There’s been a lot of water under the bridge, and I know for a fact it wasn’t blind,” says Robitaiile now, meaning the Habs already knew the stick was illegal before the measurement took place. ”But I don’t think anyone will ever admit to it.”
The story is this: A policeman whose job it was to make sure nobody goes onto the visiting team’s bench at the Forum during the intermission breaks was either paid off or acted out of hometown loyalty, but for whatever reason decided to look the other way while a Habs trainer looked through the Kings’ stick rack and found the illegal stick.
The policeman later on, close to death, didn’t want to take the guilt of his secret to his grave, and confessed to Robitaille during a phone call.
Robitaille, for his part, doesn’t admit publicly to the phone call because he doesn’t want to use the policeman’s name which would serve no purpose now. And he didn’t want to be accused of sour grapes. “Actually, there’s beena couple of people who told me,” said Robitaille.
Gallagher makes a strong case that the Habs must have already known. “Consider, had the stick not been illegal the Habs would have received the penalty and Montreal would have kissed off any chance of coming back. Did Demers have that kind of jam to make that kind of call based on what one or two of his players might have thought on the ice?”
“Similarly, the Montreal players have all said they had no prior knowledge of the situation, but then they wouldn’t have needed any if the Habs trainer had been able to communicate directly with Demers after checking the Kings’ stick rack.”
“And why would Montreal players ever admit to such knowledge, given it would diminish their accomplishment of winning the Cup in the eyes of the public? It’s certainly not in their best interest to admit anything.”
Gallagher says “In a way it’s the NHL’s dirty little secret, the scandal that never seems to get out because it’s so old. But according to those who heard Robitaille tell the story of how he knows, it’s a public-relations bullet the league dodged, which would have made the NFL’s Patriots spying scandal look like a kindergarten squabble by comparison.”