In the real world, the Tampa Bay Lightning just won their second straight Stanley Cup title, but on our NHL Saturday series? We back in 1985, watching the Edmonton Oilers emerge with their second straight Stanley Cup victory. Symmetry? Maybe. Coincidence? More likely. Hockey history is replete with turning points, however!
So, who took home the hardware way back when? Let’s check it out and see …
1985 Hart: Wayne Gretzky (original, confirmed)
Once again, Oilers center Wayne Gretzky (19.63) led all other players in the league by almost 5 Point Shares and all other forwards by 5.6 PS. Edmonton posted 109 points to earn the best record in the Campbell Conference, and the Oilers still would have made the postseason without the Great One. Yet he won the Hart vote again, for the sixth season in a row. Will we honor that?
The next-best, non-Edmonton forward came in at almost 8.5 PS behind Gretzky, though, which is just insane (New York Islanders right wing Mike Bossy (11.15), who won our 1981 Conn Smythe (while we took away his 1978 Calder and his 1982 Conn Smythe awards!).
That’s just too much of a gap to overcome, so Gretzky gets this trophy again. His numbers continue to be mind-numbing, in truth: NHL-best marks in goals (73), assists (135), points (208), plus/minus rating (+100), even-strength goals (54), short-handed goals (11), and total shots on goal (354).
1985 Vezina: Pelle Lindbergh (original, confirmed)
The Philadelphia Flyers posted 113 points to finish atop the Wales Conference, and goaltender Pelle Lindbergh (13.84 PS) was the primary reason for that finish. He won the Vezina vote, as well, so it’s up to us to decide if he really deserved it. The second-best goalie in the league was Chicago Black Hawks netminder Murray Bannerman (11.10 PS), and the only other goalie to finish about 10 PS was Calgary Flames veteran Reggie Lemelin (10.40).
Chicago cruised into the playoffs with 83 points in the Norris Division, while the Flames finished 94 points in the Smythe Division. With only two teams in the Campbell Conference not making the playoffs, both the Black Hawks and the Flames had plenty of margin for error. Here is a quick comparison of the three goaltenders:
- Lindbergh: 40-17-7, .899 S%, 3.02 GAA, and led league in games (65), wins (40), and saves (1,732)
- Bannerman: 27-25-4, .883 S%, 3.84 GAA
- Lemelin: 30-12-10, .888 S%, 3.47 GAA, and led league in ties
Clearly, Lindbergh played the most and at the highest quality, too, for these finalists. We confirm his award. Sadly, he would perish in a car accident early during the next NHL season.
1985 Norris: Paul Coffey (original, confirmed)
Oilers defenseman Paul Coffey finished second overall in the league for Point Shares (14.77), which was three points better than the next-best blue liner (Boston Bruins stalwart Ray Bourque at 11.56). That’s a big gap, even if the Bruins finished 7th in the Wales Conference—enough for the playoffs by far. We know the Oilers were good, but again, this kind of gap really separates Coffey’s play from everyone else’s, no matter how we slice it up.
Bourque won our Norris nod last year, because he played a better balance of offense and defense. But this season, Coffey notched a career-best 5.3 defensive Point Shares, and that was just outside the Top 10 for the league overall, in truth. With Bourque only posting 5.68 dPS himself, clearly Coffey deserves to keep his voted award.
His traditional numbers: 37G, 84A, plus-57 rating, 97 PIMs, and 285 SOG. That is some well-rounded play.
1985 Calder: Mario Lemieux (original), Steve Penney (revised)
The three best rookies were Montréal Canadiens defenseman Chris Chelios (8.8 PS), Pittsburgh Penguins center Mario Lemieux (7.5), and Montréal goalie Steve Penney (7.3). Lemieux won the Calder vote, but let’s examine some facts here: The Pens posted the worst record in the Wales, and the second-worst record in the NHL overall. They did improve 15 points, however, from the prior season.
Meanwhile, the Canadiens improved 19 points from the season before to win the Adams Division by 3 points over the Quebec Nordiques. Now both Chelios and Penney contributed to that, and while Montréal would secured a postseason berth without either player, a singular player was the difference between a division crown and a lower playoff seed.
We see Penney as more valuable, since the other regular goalie on the roster was considerably worse:
- Penney: 26-18-8, .876 S%, 3.09 GAA
- Doug Soetaert: 14-9-4, .853 S%, 3.41 GAA
Interesting enough, a third goalie—someone named Patrick Roy—played in one game for the Canadiens, totaling 20 scoreless minutes. But we digress: Penney gets our nod here in a shocking upset over two Hall of Famer players. He would be out of the league before the decade was out.
1985 Conn Smythe: Wayne Gretzky (original), Lindbergh (revised)
The Oilers topped the Flyers in 5 games for the Cup, and Gretzky won the Conn Smythe for posting 47 points (17G, 30A) in just 18 games. Coffey was next with 37 points (12G, 25A) in 18 games, as the scoring machine just rolled on and on for Edmonton. Overall, six Oilers put up more points than games played in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
For Philly, Lindbergh posted a 12-6 record with a 2.50 GAA and a .914 save percentage overall in the postseason—including 3 shutouts. He held Edmonton to just 1 goal in Game 1 of the Finals, but after that, he gave up 10 goals in the next three games combined, all Flyers’ losses. Still, factoring all this in, Lindbergh posted the following numbers in each successive round of play:
- First round against New York Rangers: 3-0, 10 GAA
- Second round against New York Islanders: 4-1, 9 GAA
- Third round against Quebec: 4-2, 12 GAA
- Final round against Edmonton: 1-3, 11 GAA
Philadelphia never would have been in the Cup Finals without Lindbergh, and he held his own decently enough against the Oilers for four games, despite losing three of them. After holding Edmonton to just 2 goals in a Game 2 loss, the Flyers were in position still to win it all before the inevitable flood of scoring came from the Oilers.
If Lindbergh had managed one more victory in the Finals, we could give this to him, readily. But he gave up 4 goals in the first 25 minutes of Game 3 before getting yanked, and then he gave up 4 more goals in the first two periods of Game 4 before getting benched. He didn’t start Game 5, where Edmonton scored 8 times (!) on the Flyers backup.
And maybe that says it all to us: Lindbergh deserves this award, because other than two bad starts against the Oilers, he carried the Flyers to the Cup Finals and came close enough to winning it all before losing the confidence of his head coach (Mike Keenan). Without Lindbergh, this Philly squad was dog meat, period, against Edmonton.
Maybe there is a little emotion here in this choice, but clearly, Edmonton was going to win no matter who did the scoring. Lindbergh stifled that oil flow for a bit and came somewhat close to pulling off a miracle, if only his coach had had a bit more confidence in him, perhaps.
Check in on Saturdays for our NHL awards historical analysis on The Daily McPlay!