Kirk Muller's Stanley Cup Winning Goal
It was game 5 of the Stanley Cup final in 1993. Montreal needed one more win over Wayne Gretzky’s Los Angeles Kings to capture the trophy. With the score tied at 1-1, Vincent Damphousse went behind the net and fed the puck out.
“I was just trying to get loose in front,” says Kirk Muller over the phone from his home near Kingston. “He found me and I was able to put it past Kelly Hrudey.”
It proved to be the Stanley Cup winning goal as the Canadiens went on to win the game 4-1.
And then something unbelievable happened.
Kingston lawyer Lou Vadala, a friend of Muller’s, was sitting in his usual seat behind the goal at the Montreal Forum. When the puck flew over the glass, he caught it, and later returned it to Muller.
“There are 19,000 people there and he just happens to be the one who catches it,” laughs Muller. “So I have the stick, the gloves and the puck from the goal – it’s great memorabilia.”
That year few expected the Canadiens to win the Cup. The team had only won 4 of its last 10 regular season games. Then in the first round of the playoffs against Quebec they dropped the first two games.
The Montreal media and fans were howling. However, Muller says the team remained confident.
“Coach Jacques Demers from day one instilled in us the belief that we could challenge for the Cup,” he says. “The strength of the team was the character of all the guys.”
Montreal went on to defeat Quebec in six games. Then they swept Buffalo and defeated the New York Islanders 4-1.
The former star with the Kingston Voyageurs and Kingston Canadians says these short series were the keys to victory for Montreal. “We weren’t the best team in the league that year. People should realize that it’s not always the strongest team that wins the Stanley Cup. You’ve got to win the series early.”That proved to be an advantage in the final. Los Angeles had a tough road in the playoffs, narrowly beating Toronto in seven games in the semi-final. “We were well rested. I think we were the fresher team and it paid off in winning the Cup.”
The playoffs also featured a record 10 straight overtime wins by the Canadiens, after they lost the first OT to Quebec. Muller scored two overtime goals in games against Quebec and Buffalo. He says the Canadiens thrived in OT. “We had a lot of confidence going into overtime that we had a goalie (Patrick Roy) who would make the saves and allow us to put the puck in the net.”
Immediately following the Cup victory in Montreal, fans took to the streets to celebrate. However, it turned into an ugly riot, with some people vandalizing stores and setting police cars ablaze.
With the riot going on outside, officials ordered the players to stay in the Forum. Muller and his father Ed wound up in the bar with Don Cherry and Montreal alumni stars like Jean Beliveau, Guy Lafleur and Yvan Cournoyer. “It was a great way of celebrating the winning of the Cup.”
Muller will be in Montreal on June 9 for a team reunion to mark the 25th anniversary of the win. The date also happens to be exactly 34 years since he was drafted into the NHL, second that year only to Mario Lemieux. The former Montreal captain is popular in the city and serves as an associate coach under head coach Claude Julien.
He has another cause for celebration. He and his wife Stacey just became grandparents. Daughter Bryelle and her partner Brad Malone recently had a boy named Banks. However, it’s unclear whether Banks will grow up to be a Montreal or Edmonton fan – Malone plays for the Oilers organization.
With 25 years having gone by since a Canadian team captured the Cup, Muller predicts that it will happen again eventually. He points to Winnipeg’s playoff success this year and Ottawa’s strong run in 2017.
“It’s just a darn tough trophy to win. That’s why the Stanley Cup is so special. It’s about who can play four rounds of hockey and get to the end and still have enough energy to defeat the other team.”