Forum for Cup upset

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:34 AM ET

These days, the old Montreal Forum houses theatres, restaurants and a shopping mall, so the 1989 Calgary Flames don't need to worry about sharing their slice of history.

In the nearly six decades the Canadiens made their home at 2313 Saint Catherine Street West, the visiting team circled the ice with the championship hardware just once.

Score the only upset to the Flames.

"Just to win it there and be the only team ever, I can't even tell you how many times people, still, to this day, say 'You know, you guys were the only team to do it in that historic building.' And that's a great feeling," said Flames centre Joe Nieuwendyk, who collected a goal and an assist for the club in the '89 final.

"I played with a lot of Montreal guys over the years -- with Guy Carbonneau and all these guys -- and it's a nice feather to have in your cap.That's for sure."

Winning the Stanley Cup at the Montreal Forum, which was home to the Canadiens from 1938-1996, is akin to hitting a walk-off home run at the original Yankee Stadium, claiming the checkered flag at Indianapolis Motor Speedway or making an ace at the Old Course at St. Andrews.

By the time the Flames and the Habs faced off for the right to sip from Lord Stanley's mug in 1989, there were 21 NHL championship banners hanging from the rafters. Supporters of Les Glorieux had watched a long list of legends -- Maurice and Henri Richard, Jean Beliveau, Guy Lafleur, Jacques Plante, etc. -- parade around with hockey's most coveted prize held high.

But the likes of Larry Robinson, Bob Gainey, Mats Naslund, Chris Chelios and superstar-in-the-making Patrick Roy couldn't stop the Flames from throwing their own party in 1989.

Or even postpone it.

"There wasn't an added bonus of winning in Montreal," insisted former Flames netminder Rick Wamsley. "It probably would have been a lot more fun if we won on home ice, to tell you the truth, but we weren't being too particular. We were very happy to win it in six."

For some Flames veterans, completing their Stanley Cup quest in Montreal was payback for three years earlier, when they'd watched the Canadiens celebrate at the Saddledome. That was the Calgary club's first trip to the final series, and they weren't going to squander their second shot at hockey's holy grail.

"The one thing I do remember is nobody left the building," said defenceman Dana Murzyn. "You'd think with a visiting team winning there that people might've emptied and been disappointed, but they stayed. They all gave us a standing ovation when we circled with the Stanley Cup, and that really said a lot for the hockey fans of Montreal. That was a great feeling."

The ace up the Flames' sleeve in 1989 was assistant coach Doug Risebrough, a guy who knew a thing or two about winning big games at the Forum. As a player, Risebrough won four straight Stanley Cups with the Habs from 1976-79, although three of those championships were clinched on the road.

Risebrough was a Flames co-captain when the two squads faced off in the 1986 final and regretted not saying enough to calm the nerves of his star-struck teammates.

He made up for it three years later.

"Because we were in Montreal, I wanted to make sure the players understood that the Montreal mystique was not going to win that Cup. It was going to be who is the best team," Risebrough said. "The Canadiens have a great way of parading out all of their Stanley Cups in front of you, whether it's Beliveau in the crowd or the Rocket in those days, or Henri Richard. But you can't be intimidated by that. There's two teams, and it was the best team that was going to win."

Turns out, they'd make history in the process.


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