Round 4: Games 18-23"If Guy Carbonneau can’t stop them, he’ll die trying."
—Jennifer Floyd, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

 

Another figure from Carbo’s past appeared in the final round of the 2000 Stanley Cup Playoffs: New Jersey Devil’s coach Larry Robinson. The two were teammates in Montreal and won a Cup together in 1986. The elder Robinson retired some time ago, but not before achieving some longevity of his own—he was currently in third place for career playoff games played, with 227 games.

DownThe night of Game 4, there was only one man in Reunion Arena with more experience at playoff competition than Robinson. It was Guy Carbonneau’s 229th playoff game.

This was a game that would turn on a dime. The Stars held their own through two periods, struggling mightily to tie up the series, and managed to get up 1-0 on a Nieuwendyk goal. But the third period brought three quick scores by the Devils and the devastation of Dallas’s hopes. Guy personally had to be very dismayed; he had at last been given the assignment of focusing on New Jersey’s top line and had great success against them, only to have the Devils’ rookies do what their shut-down veterans could not.

Game 5 returned to the Meadowlands. The Stars’ challenge was to win three games in a row, two of them in New Jersey. But for the time being they were fighting for only one thing: the right to play a Game 6. The prize many hoped to grasp was no longer necessarily Lord Stanley’s Cup but just one more home game, especially those of us with a certain favorite player who might never again play at home.

Shooting"We have to decide if we really want to go deep and try to come back," said Carbonneau. "That’s the first decision you have to make. If you’re just going to try and show up on Thursday and hoping, then you might as well stay here. I think we’ve always been strong emotionally and played with passion when we’re in trouble, and right now, we’re really in trouble. We’re not going to quit."

To make matters more interesting, the press reported that Carbonneau had hurt his knee and would be a game-time decision. For some reason this news didn’t perturb me. This didn’t seem to be the season when Carbo would be scratched for injury.

Sure enough, he was on hand to participate in the game that would make history, a ferocious, beautiful battle that was scoreless until the sixth period of play. In fact, Guy was more than just "on hand"—the PK only allowed one shot on the Devils’ two full power plays, and outshot New Jersey, 1-0, on the third. In spite of that wrist with the hairline fracture, that bad knee, and a hand tendon torn in the previous round, Carbonneau played a brilliant game up till the moment Mike Modano tallied to break the longest scoreless tie in Finals history. That night and the next day, countless people called it the best hockey game they had ever seen…Carbo’s 230th playoff game.

They didn’t quit. They were still playing. At least once more.

The prize, Game 6, was also not a quitters’ game. It went to double overtime, but that night it was Jason Arnott who scored and won his team the Stanley Cup. It was a fair and right ending to the series, although there are many who would say the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoffs MVP should have gone to Ed Belfour, without whom the Stars’ season would have been much shorter and Larry Robinson’s record would never have been broken. When the saddened goaltender skated to the bench, all his teammates’ gratitude was expressed by Guy Carbonneau, who put a consoling arm around Eddie and kissed the top of his mask.

Some of Carbo’s last moments on the ice were spent congratulating first the Devils’ Claude Lemieux, also on the 1986 Champion Canadiens, and then Coach Robinson. As Guy shook hands with the men with whom he won his first Cup ring, the Dallas crowd sensed perhaps an era was ending.

They began to chant.

When Carbo was a very young man, he played alongside the legendary Guy Lafleur. Lafleur’s name was frequently shouted by Montreal fans—"Guy! Guy! Guy!"—as he dazzled them with his offensive prowess. Some years later, after Lafleur left the Habs, the defensively-skilled Guy Carbonneau was astonished to hear the chant raised in his own honor.

And much later than that, he was just as amazed to hear it in the city of Dallas, Texas. But nowadays never a home game goes by when you don’t hear them yell out his name.

At the end of the night that the Stars lost the Stanley Cup, the crowd chanted, "Guy! Guy! Guy!" As he skated off, Carbonneau saluted them with a wave.

Guy’s Sher-Wood must be lucky, for I got my wish: 23 kisses for 23 games, the most he ever played in a single year of his 17 appearances in the playoffs.

With 231 games total, Guy Carbonneau is five shy of first place all time.

And, until we hear to the contrary, still playing.



Second photo by Brad Amodeo


See also:

Carbo feeling pain (courtesy of The Montreal Gazette)
Carbonneau too experienced too worry (courtesy of nhl.com)
Confidence guides Stars' Carbonneau (courtesy of The Dallas Morning News)
Carbonneau's line has Devil of chance (courtesy of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
Carbonneau's decision (courtesy of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

Next ChapterDiane's Playoff Diary
5/27/00 "Two Kinds of Elimination"

6/6/00 "Too Young and Too Good"


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'00 #1:
Games 1-5

'00 #2:
Games 6-10

'00 #3:
Games 11-17

'00 #4:
Games 18-23

'00 Epilog