Eight times the Montreal Canadiens had been faced with seeing someone other than them win the Stanley Cup on Forum ice.
Seven times they answered the challenge. But Thursday night their streak ended.
"I don't feel we have to apologize to the Richard brothers (Richard and Henri) or Jean Beliveau," said Canadiens center Bobby Smith after his team lost a third straight game to the Calgary Flames and surrendered the Cup on Forum ice, four games to two.
"We gave it everything we had."
Despite that, the Canadiens could find little to be content with.
"We gave it everything we had and that was just an awful lot of work," said Ryan Walter. "All that work and absolutely nothing to show for it. You don't get anything for second place."
"I don't think anybody likes to lose," added Canadiens goaltender Patrick Roy. "I think anytime you go to the Stanley Cup final you have to win. You never know when it will be your last chance."
Canadiens coach Pat Burns seemed particularly despondent over the loss. Burns had a hard time finding words to convey his feelings but did say he felt the difference in the series was the fact that the Flames were able to score on their opportunities and the Canadiens did not. He also indicated the Flames might have had a little more motivation.
"They played with revenge in mind, revenge from the '86 series (when Montreal won in five games)," Burns said. "They did not want to go through that again."
A number of Flames said they felt the turning point of the series was Game Four when the Flames came back from a double overtime loss in Game Three here to even the series at 2-2.
"We focused our game after that," said Flames coach Terry Crisp. "We were angry and we focused that anger towards winning. That would be the turning point in my mind."
Defenseman Al MacInnis won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs in voting conducted by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
MacInnis scored at least one point in 17 consecutive games (including Thursday's final game). That's a record for defenseman in the playoffs and one short of the overall record of 18 established by New York Islanders center Bryan Trottier. MacInnis also finished as the leading point scorer in the playoffs (7-23-30).
Before MacInnis, no defenseman had ever won the playoff scoring championship.
"There's not a lot I can say," said MacInnis, "but I couldn't have picked a better time to get hot. The coaches kept saying 'shoot, fire the puck.' Things seem to happen when I'm shooting the puck."
Calgary's victory exploded one of the popular theories in hockey, that you have to have a Stanley Cup winner on your roster to win the Cup. Calgary had none, except for coach Terry Crisp, who won two Cups while playing with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Former Buffalo Sabres General Manager Scott Bowman this week met with two men in San Diego regarding their hopes of landing an NHL expansion franchise.
The two, Harry Cooper and Richard Esquinas, own the rights to events in the San Diego Arena, but are attempting to secure a new arena on city-owned property in downtown San Diego.
Bowman, who Wednesday was said to be en route from San Diego to Montreal, was unavailable for comment. There are unconfirmed reports that he could buy into a minority interest in the proposed franchise.
Calgary Flames General Manager Cliff Fletcher Thursday exercised a great deal of caution regarding Soviet reports that three star Soviet hockey players were being released to NHL teams.
The Soviet news agency Tass reported that defenseman Vyacheslav Fetisov and forwards Igor Larionov and Sergei Makarov are free to negotiate with the NHL clubs that have their rights.
Fletcher said Makarov is "still one of the best players in the world" and that he could still probably help any team in the NHL.
"The big question is, does he want to play for us."
Fletcher said he likely would meet with Soviet authorities soon after the Stanley Cup playoffs are concluded. He did not directly address the issue of cost, but indicated the Soviets likely would seek hefty compensation for each of the players.
New Jersey has the rights to Fetisov, considered the Bobby Orr of Soviet hockey. The Vancouver Canucks have the rights to Larionov.