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  • Writer's pictureDerek Ochej

Unexpected Stanley Cup Finals heroes

The Stanley Cup playoffs often produce unexpected heroes. Defensive forwards or defencemen who turn into goal scoring machines for a short-period of time, just long enough to push their team to winning Lord Stanley's mug. One of the players featured in this post, Doug Brown, fits this description perfectly. On a stacked 1998 Red Wings team that included Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, Nicklas Lidstrom and Brendan Shanahan, bottom-six forward Doug Brown would lead the team in scoring in the Finals as the Wings went back-to-back with a sweep of Washington. In honour of Brown's accomplishment, let's check out some other unlikely Stanley Cup Finals heroes from the 1990s.

1993 - Montreal - John LeClair & Eric Desjardins

The 1993 Canadiens weren’t the underdog they are often portrayed to have been. While not a Cup favourite starting the playoffs, they did finish sixth overall in the league based on points. On the strength of a true team performance they would win the franchise’s 26th Stanley Cup, with two unlikely sources helping in the Cup Finals. Forward John LeClair, in his second full NHL season, scored two goals and four points in the Finals, with those two goals being overtime winners in Games 3 and 4. Defenceman Eric Desjardins scored a hat trick in Game 2, including the game-tying and game-winning goals; to that point he had scored only one goal the entire playoffs.

1995 - New Jersey - Shawn Chambers

Defenceman Chambers is perhaps most famous for being rated a 1 out of 100 in the NHLPA 93 video game. In the 1995 Finals he scored two goals in Game 4, as the Devils completed their sweep of Detroit. Prior to the 1995 playoffs, Chambers had scored only two goals in 33 career playoff games.

1996 - Colorado - Uwe Krupp

The 1996 Avalanche gave us German defenceman Uwe Krupp. Prior to the 1996 playoffs, Krupp had scored only two goals in 50 career playoff games. In the 1996 Finals he scored two goals and three points in the Avs’ sweep of Florida, including the Cup-winning goal in triple overtime of Game 4.

1997 - Detroit - Kirk Maltby

A year before Doug Brown’s heroics in the 1998 Finals, the Red Wings had Kirk Maltby as an unlikely Cup hero. After scoring only three goals in 55 regular season games, Maltby scored five in 20 playoff games, including two in the Finals. Maltby scored shorthanded in Game 1, and contributed the winner in Game 2 as the Red Wings would sweep Philadelphia.

Card 213 - Doug Brown

An undrafted right winger, Brown signed with New Jersey as a free agent after four seasons at Boston College. He made his NHL debut late in 1986-87, playing in four games with the Devils after spending the majority of the season with Utica of the AHL.

In his first full NHL season of 1987-88, Brown would score 14 goals and 25 points, finishing sixth in Calder Trophy voting. Over the next four seasons in New Jersey Brown would establish himself as a consistent bottom-six forward, scoring 11-15 goals and 20-30 points per season.

In 1992-93 Brown played in only 15 games with the Devils, spending time back in the AHL. The following season he would sign with Pittsburgh and record a career best total in points with 55.

Brown would be claimed by Detroit in the waiver draft before the start of the 1994-95 season, and would display previously unseen offensive production in the playoffs that season, scoring four goals and 12 points in 18 games. He would spend the next six seasons as a part of the mini-Red Wings dynasty, scoring a career-high 19 goals in 1997-98 and winning two Stanley Cups.

Following the 1998 Cup win Brown would be claimed by the Nashville Predators in the expansion draft, and be subsequently traded back to Detroit for two draft picks. He would retire after the 2000-01 season, having played 15 NHL seasons, scoring 160 goals and 374 points.

Brown has stayed out of hockey since retirement, running a financial and technology management consulting firm. He is married into the famous Mara family, owners of the New York Giants and is an uncle to actresses Rooney and Kate Mara. Brown’s son Patrick currently plays for the Vegas Golden Knights.

YouTube clip: scoring two goals in the Game 4 of 1998 Stanley Cup Finals. The Wings would sweep the Caps, with Brown leading the team in scoring for Finals with three goals and five points.

Card 214 - Todd Krygier

Undrafted after four years at the University of Connecticut, including two years as captain, Krygier turned pro in 1987, playing two seasons in the AHL. The left winger would make his NHL debut in the 1989-90 with Hartford, scoring 18 goals (a career-high) and 30 points in 58 games.

In three of his next four NHL seasons Krygier would score exactly 30 points, having been traded during that time to Washington for a draft pick. He would play three seasons with the Capitals before a trade to Anaheim prior to the 1994-95 season. Krygier would be traded back to Washington part way through the 1995-96 season, in which he would score 15 goals and a career-high 48 points. He would play two more seasons with the Capitals, making it to the Cup Finals in 1998, playing in 14 playoff games, scoring one goal and three points.

Kygier would play two seasons in the IHL with Orlando before retiring at the end of 1999-2000 season. In nine seasons he would play in 543 games, scoring 100 goals and 243 points.

In 2006 he began coaching with Novi High in his home state of Michigan, holding that position until moving onto Muskegon in the UHL from 2013 to 2016. 2016-19 saw Krygier work as an assistant coach with Western Michigan in the NCAA and since 2019 he has been an assistant coach with Grand Rapids of the AHL.

YouTube clip: scoring the overtime winner in Game 2 of 1998 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against Buffalo.

Card 215 - Jon Morris

A centre, Morris was drafted 86th overall by New Jersey in 1984. He would play four seasons of college hockey with his hometown squad, the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, being named captain his senior year. Morris would turn pro late in the 1988-89 season, playing in four games with the Devils.

The 1989-90 season would be split between the AHL and NHL, with Morris scoring 13 points in 20 NHL games. The following season would be the best of his career, playing in 53 games scoring 9 goals and 28 points. Morris would play in only 14 games between the NHL and AHL in 1991-92, as he would be suspended from the team for a period of time due to refusing an assignment to the minors; he had been suspended previously by the Devils in 1988-89 for the same reason.

Morris would be claimed off waivers by San Jose in March 1993, playing 13 games for the Sharks, recording four assists. During the 1993-94 season he would be traded to Boston for cash, playing his final four NHL games with the Bruins.

In six NHL seasons Morris would play in 103 games, scoring 16 goals and 49 points. He would briefly play in Italy and Germany in the mid 1990s before retiring from pro hockey for good. According to his LinkedIn profile, Morris has worked as a Logistics Specialist with Canada Post since 2008.

YouTube clip: scoring the opening goal in 5-1 Devils win over Washington in February 1991.

Card 216 - Dave Reid

Drafted 60th overall by Boston in 1982, Reid would play two additional seasons in the OHL with Peterborough before turning pro in 1983-84. The left winger would play in eight games that season for the Bruins, scoring his first NHL goal.

Over the next four seasons, Reid would bounce between the minors and the NHL, playing in a decreasing number of games (35, 37, 12 and 3) each successive season. In 1984-85 Reid would score 14 goals and 27 points in only 35 games. For the 1988-89 season Reid would sign with his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs, and freed of the Bruins organization, would play in 77 games, scoring 30 points. In his third season as a Leaf, Reid would score 15 goals, eight of which were shorthanded, good enough to lead the NHL that season.

Perhaps newly appreciated by the Bruins, Reid would return to the organization for the 1991-92 season. In 92-93 he would score 20 goals for the first time in his career; in 95-96, his final season as a Bruin, Reid would record career-highs in goals (23) and points (44).

For the 1996-97 season, Reid would sign with Dallas as a free agent. In 1999, 15 years after his pro career started, he would win his first Stanley Cup, contributing 10 points in 23 playoff games. In 2000 Reid would sign with conference rival Colorado, and in 2001 would win his second Stanley Cup in three seasons.

Reid would retire after winning his second Cup, having played 961 games in an 18-year career. He scored 165 goals and 369 points, and ranks 29th all time with 28 shorthanded goals. He has worked as an analyst with the NHL Network and TSN since his retirement, taking a three year hiatus from 2010 to 2013 when he was general manager of his former OHL team, Peterborough.

YouTube clip: Reid is an avid hockey card collector like us normal folks, but with one key difference: his collection is 150,000 to 200,000 strong.

Card 217 - John McIntyre

The OHL’s Scholastic Player of the Year in 1987, McIntyre was drafted 49th overall by Toronto in that year's draft. A centre, he would go on to play two additional seasons with Guelph before making his NHL debut in 1989-90. McIntyre would play 59 games with the Leafs, scoring five goals and 12 points.

Early in the 1990-91 season he would be traded to Los Angeles one-for-one for veteran Mike Krushelnyski; that season McIntyre would score a career-high eight goals. The following season with the Kings he would record a career-high 24 points.

March 1993 would see McIntyre sent to the New York Rangers for Mark Hardy and a draft pick. He would play 11 games with the Rangers before being claimed by Vancouver in the 1993 Waiver Draft. McIntyre would play 62 regular season games (scoring nine points) and play in all 24 playoff games as the Canucks would lose in the Stanley Cup Finals to his former team, the Rangers.

In 1994-95 he would play 28 games with the Canucks, spending most of the season with Syracuse in the AHL. This would prove to his final season of pro hockey; in the end McIntyre had a six season NHL career, playing in 351 games, scoring 24 goals and 78 points. He is last known to be living in his hometown just outside of Sarnia, Ontario, working the family farm.

YouTube clip: challenging (and losing) to Bob Probert in a November 1990 fight. In total, McIntyre would have 24 career fights.

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