When Hockey Trumped Labor

By HOWARD BERGER

TORONTO (Sep. 19) – April 1992. September 1994 to January 1995. September 2004 to July 2005. And then today. The litany of woe in the National Hockey League is truly impressive. By comparison, Madison Avenue bumping heads with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) barely induces a ripple. Give our hockey leaders a cause – any cause – and listen for the clang-and-click. For years now, the NHL’s prime sponsor should have been a locksmith.

So, let’s take a break from Gary vs. Donald.

In 1995, after a 103-day disruption, the NHL and its players embarked on a decade of tranquility… relatively speaking. Several franchises (Quebec City, Winnipeg, Hartford) re-located; the game slowed to a trap-induced crawl, and a virulent relationship (Bettman vs. Goodenow) heightened beyond repair. But, I kid you not, pucks were dropped on schedule for nine complete seasons.

It was a time of emerging stars (Martin Brodeur, Joe Sakic, Nicklas Lidstrom) and prominent farewells (Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky, Raymond Bourque); an era dominated by the New Jersey Devils, Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche.

COLORADO’S JOE SAKIC CRADLES 1996 STANLEY CUP AFTER SWEEP OF FLORIDA.

Between lockouts, the United States up-ended Canada with a startling comeback in the 1996 World Cup (formerly Canada Cup) tournament and NHL players participated in the Winter Olympic Games for the first time: at Nagano, Japan in 1998. In the second-such competition – at Salt Lake City in 2002 – Canada avenged the World Cup defeat and broke a 50-year gold medal drought by conquering the host Americans.

In this blog – as a celebration of hockey on the ice – you will see virtually every cover of The Hockey News from Sep. 8, 1995 to Sep. 3, 1999 (with apologies for my previous address-label in Thornhill). The stars of the day are featured on numerous covers: Eric Lindros, Peter Forsberg, Jaromir Jagr, Dominik Hasek, Paul Kariya, Brett Hull, Jeremy Roenick, Patrick Roy and others. Look for cover-photos of a young Martin Brodeur and a towering New York Islanders rookie named Zdeno Chara.

Highlights include the Nagano Olympics; last game at Maple Leaf Gardens, and Gretzky’s final game in the NHL. The Great One is featured in covers wearing uniform of the Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers.

Please enjoy this reflection, in photos and headlines:

 

1995-96 NHL SEASON

 

1996-97 NHL SEASON

 

1997-98 NHL SEASON

 

1998-99 NHL SEASON

 

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