Ah, the curse of McSorley’s Stick!

Grantland (Katie Baker): The Curse of Marty McSorley

[...] The Kings lost the Cup in five games to the Montreal Canadiens, an outcome that scans as definitive yet had seemed quite unimaginable in the third period of Game 2. Up 2-1 late in the third, the Kings were less than two minutes away from returning to Los Angeles with a 2-0 series lead. The whistle was blown, and the Kings’ Marty McSorley was called over.doesn’t always show up on the scoreboard.” [...]Referee Kerry Fraser had worked during the L.A. Kings’ previous series, a seven-gamer against the Toronto Maple Leafs that was marred by his missed whistle of a Gretzky high stick on Doug Gilmour. (That blown call is so perversely clung to in Toronto that we still get headlines like “Kerry Fraser reflects on 18th anniversary of missing Wayne Gretzky’s high-stick of Doug Gilmour” and “peace be with you” pleas by Fraser.) [...]

As [Coach Jacques] Demers tells it, two of his players, Guy Carbonneau and Kirk Muller, had noticed that McSorley’s stick had a more wicked curve than most — not an unusual practice, but an illegal one. “The two teams had their sticks in the hallway, so we saw it there and we saw it on the ice,” he told USA Today in 2006. “We told them not to say anything and we checked it out and he came back with the same kind of stick in Game 2.”

To those in and around L.A., just what Demers meant by “checked it out” remains open to conspiracy (fueled in part by a 2001 article that made no mention of anyone having seen the sticks in the hallway.) Kings broadcaster Jim Fox has alluded to someone “on the inside” who was familiar with the curvature of which Kings’ sticks. ESPN.com writer Scott Burnside, discussing the mysterious sandy substance that ended up on the skates of Philadelphia Flyers during their 2010 playoff matchup against Montreal, recalled the spectre of locker room sabotage from decades before. “Some of the reporters who covered the 1993 Stanley Cup finals between Montreal and the Los Angeles Kings remember rumors of the Canadiens somehow knowing which of the Kings’ sticks might have been illegal,” he mused. “Did someone sneak into the Kings’ dressing room and measure the sticks?”And on the occasion of his Hall of Fame induction, former L.A. King (and current team executive) Luc Robitaille spoke of shady dealings. “I don’t think they were flying blind, but I don’t think anyone will ever admit to it,” he said. “Actually, there are a couple people that told me throughout time that it wasn’t blind. But there’s been a lot of water under the bridge, and I actually know for a fact it wasn’t blind, but that’s the way it goes … bad memories there.”

Perhaps he was referring at least in part to a story he told the L.A. Daily News in 2003. “I’m in Montreal’s new arena and this policeman comes up to me,” Robitaille said then. “He said ‘To this day, I feel so bad. You know, they measured your sticks between periods and before games.’ … This guy told me that a trainer, or somebody from the Montreal team, told him to look the other way while he measured our sticks.”

[...]  Montreal pulled Patrick Roy, tied the game on the resulting 6-on-4, and then scored again shortly into overtime for the 3-2 win. It was enough for “McSorley’s Illegal Stick” to constitute one of the Canadiens’ “Greatest Moments.”

[...] “Barry Melrose wouldn’t have made that call,” Melrose claimed, smugly sanctimonious in defeat. “I don’t believe in winning like that.”

 
  • Garrett79

    For the longest time I was adamant that the Kings should have won the Cup that year and really did because Montreal cheated so badly. To find out that the Canadiens really did cheat there really hurts. Between that and the fact that on the tying goal one of the Habs (Keane, I think) was in the crease so that the goal shouldn’t have counted and then the fact that in Game 3 one of them (Carbonneau?.. sorry for the spelling, but it’s late so even though I know that’s wrong I’m not looking it up) covered the puck in the crease late in a tied game and the Kings should have been awarded a penalty shot with Gretzky and Sandstrom on the ice at the time, either of whom would have buried it, this after the had fought their way back from a 3-0 hole in the game…

    Anyways, yeah that still really hurts.

    I still wish the NHL would take the championship away from Montreal.

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