New York, NY (Dec. 3) - The Montreal Canadiens, that tradition-rich hockey franchise, returned from a 15-year exile and reclaimed the Stanley Cup in a bloodless, swift coup yesterday at league offices.
"Le Cup du Stanley est avec les Habitants!," shouted defenseman Mathieu Dandenault as he held aloft hockey's Holy Grail inside the office of commissioner Gary Bettman, which was seized by Dandenault and his teammates, who were dressed as the 1965 Canadiens for effect, yesterday around 1:45 P.M.
The Montreal Canadiens, disguised as the 1965 champions, pose with their newly seized Stanley Cup yesterday
The Canadiens, who last won the Cup in 1993, had been dormant for so long that many hockey observers figured they were either seceding their rights to the trophy and league supremacy, or were plotting a return to power. Obviously, yesterday's actions confirmed that it was the latter.
"We have the Stanley Cup. We hereby declare ourselves hockey's new power," forward Saku Koivu announced, speaking thru a megaphone to the bystanders below in Manhattan. "The most glorified trophy in all of sports is now where it deserves to be."
"The Montreal Canadiens stormed the league office at approximately 1:30 this afternoon," according to a statement released by the NHL. "They were heavily armed with hockey sticks and skate blades, but there was no violence. Mr. Bettman surrendered his office, and the Stanley Cup, about three minutes after their arrival."
"This confirms the chatter that I'd been hearing," said hockey analyst Bill Clement of the Versus Network. "We'd been getting intelligence that the Canadiens were plotting an overthrow and a return to their past glories."
The reigning Cup champs, the Anaheim Ducks, also weren't injured in the coup.
"I'm fine," said captain Chris Pronger. "So is everyone else. We were practicing when we heard about it. " He then added, "Well, it (being Cup champs) was fun while it lasted. I think everyone suspected the Canadiens would rise again. It's been too long."
Yesterday's seizing of the Cup now gives the Canadiens franchise 27 championship trophies in their illustrious history.
After spending some time filling the Cup with beer and champagne and drinking from it, Koivu and his new championship teammates planned to return to Montreal for a parade, which will be held Tuesday afternoon.
Bettman was briefly detained by Canadiens defenseman Patrice Brisebois, who held Bettman at arm's length by gripping the commissioner's forehead while Bettman flailed uselessly with his arms. Then he was hung on a coat hook by the back of his jacket before the players fled.