Because I sure do. It was one of the fonder moments of watching hockey during my childhood. And what a better time to reminisce than the eve of the Stanley Cup Playoffs!?
Who cares that the Anaheim Mighty Ducks did eventually succumb to that dirtball, headhunter Scott Stevens and lose in Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals. No one remembers the Devils won the Cup that year. No one. But a lot of people remember Paul Kariya for this. Because this is close to the most heart ever shown on a hockey rink, professional or otherwise…
The video’s description encapsulates all the emotions of that moment better than I ever could…
One of the most dramatic moments ever in the Stanley Cup Finals. With his team down 3 to 2 in game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, Ducks captain, Paul Kariya cuts into the middle of the ice at the pond in Anaheim. As Kariya dumps the puck into the New Jersey zone, Devils captain Scott Stevens pinches in and delivers a signature devastating hit. Kariya’s head is rocked into the hard ice and his visor is knocked into the front of his face. After lying motionless for several seconds, Kariya “came back to life” with a cough that produced a cloud of condensation on his visor. Minutes later, Kariya dramatically returns to the Anaheim bench and proceeds to score the game winning goal with a rocket of a slap shot past Devils goaltender Martin Broduer.
Goddamn, what a player Paul Kariya was. And put him on the ice with Teemu Selanne and they were near invincible.
It’s worth noting that in this day & age, Scott Stevens would probably get fined the entirety of his contract for a hit like that. So calculated. So vicious. Just utter disregard for another human being’s life. But hey, that’s how guys used to play the game…even if they knew it was dirty.
A damn shame that Kariya never did get to hoist Lord Stanley, and preemptively retired from the game after taking too many hits like that.