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Canada's last Stanley Cup win: How the Montreal Canadiens scored decades of memories

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Montreal Canadiens fans have a few words of advice for those in Edmonton now dreaming of lining a parade route and watching their Oilers hoist the Stanley Cup: enjoy the ride.

The Canadiens, affectionately called the Habs, were the last team north of the border to take home the trophy, thirty-one years ago, on Wednesday June 9, 1993.

"The big movie that was opening in theatres was 'Jurassic Park' then," says NHL.com columnist and historian Dave Stubbs. "I like to joke now saying that dinosaurs were actually roaming the earth the last time a Canadian team won the Cup, and I know that is a bit of a stretch but that is the truth."

Montreal already had 23 Championship banners hanging in the rafters of the Forum that was then home ice.

But the Canadiens' run at the trophy that season, and their win in the finals against Los Angeles with Wayne Gretzky as the Kings' captain, was an unlikely one. The team won ten overtime games in the playoffs, anchored by their goalie Patrick Roy, who many in Quebec nicknamed St-Patrick. One of the young players on the team, left-winger Gilbert Dionne, earned 12 points in 20 games.

Goaltender Patrick Roy hoists the Stanley Cup in this June, 1993 photo after the Montreal Canadiens beat the Los Angeles Kings to win the Stanley Cup in five games. (Ryan Remiorz / CP PICTURE ARCHIVE)

"We just were a good group of guys of, half French, half English and being well coached and trained," says Dionne. "We were ready to believe in ourselves."

When it was time for Dionne to hold the cup during the post-game skate around the rink, he raised it and skated toward section 105 where his older brother, also an NHL hockey player and Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne, was watching.

"I said 'we did it', and I meant that we did it as a family, for our parents," he says. "I wanted to let Marcel know that our last name Dionne will be on the cup forever."

Habs captain Guy Carbonneau urged him to take full advantage of his time holding the cup, but Dionne says he thought "Why? I am just 22, I'll win it again."

He never did.

A violent riot broke out after the final game that left a scar on the city. Along famed Ste-Catherine Street -- a well-worn path for Stanley Cup parades -- dozens of shop windows were smashed, stores looted, and police cruisers were set on fire.

More than 165 people were injured, including 49 police officers.

But the city cleaned up the mess, and days later, nearly half a million fans crowded the parade route.

Among them was fifteen-year-old Canadiens' superfan Sunil Peetush. He has held on to the ticket stub of the playoff game he attended – costing $28.50 -- as well as a hat, and a Coke can imprinted with a list of the series' scores.

"My fondest memories really are, you know, the excitement in the city," he says. "It was such a joyful time, the euphoria of the Canadiens winning, it was incredible."

Sunil Peetush has put together a remarkable collection of paraphernalia that he put on display in what he calls his Habscave. (CTV News)

Over the decades since, Peetush has put together a remarkable collection of paraphernalia that he put on display in what he, and those who love to admire his mementos, call his Habscave. He has hosted hockey greats in the rooms in his house adorned with countless Habs logos and held charity events. But his team has never given him another chance to celebrate the Cup.

Stubbs says many fans assumed that after 1993, the Stanley Cup would remain a frequent visitor to Canada, particularly in Montreal, where many actually considered it to be at home.

"For a time in Montreal, certainly in the 1950's and in the 60's, and in the 70's, it was almost a rite of spring: you knew on which street corner you were going to go downtown to watch the parade" he says.

He recounts that during the Canadiens' four straight Stanley Cup run in the 1970's, Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau famously issued a press release that simply stated the parade would follow the "usual route".

But there was a realignment in the league that ushered in a new era in hockey, and it began right after the '92-'93 season.

"Two new teams joined, one were the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and the other were the Florida Panthers," he says. "So here we are now, we've come all those years later and the Florida Panthers are knocking on the door, possibly about ready to win their first Stanley Cup Championship."

But Stubbs says it is, almost, in the DNA of Canadians to believe the Cup is "ours".

After all, it was gifted by the Governor General of Canada Lord Stanley of Preston in 1892 as the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup to award Canada's top ranking amateur hockey club.

"The Oilers are in very tough now against a very determined, very motivated, very skilled team, in the Panthers," he says. "But I think a lot of Canadians would love to see the Oilers have a really good, strong run."

Peetush says he understands the yearning for the Stanley Cup to make a return to Canada, but he says he is a Habs' fan through and through.

Still, asked whether he has advice for Edmonton fans, he answered, "Enjoy the ride".

"You can't always win the Cup, but their team has made it that far, and I think they should enjoy the moment, celebrate and celebrate reasonably," he says. "We've won a Cup and it took a nasty turn for a bit (with the riot). Hopefully that doesn't happen in Edmonton. Just stay happy, enjoy the moment. If it works out, fantastic. If it doesn't, there's always next season." 

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