The wave of upsets in the Stanley Cup playoffs has produced some unusual matchups.
None of the four remaining teams has reached the Cup final since the divisional setup was created for the 1981-82 season. With Montreal holding a prohibitive 3-0 lead over the New York Rangers, it seems likely that for the first time in those five years, the final will not pair a team from the Patrick Division against one from the Smythe.
Should Montreal and Calgary emerge as conference champions, it would set up the first all-Canadian final since 1967, when Toronto upset Montreal in six games in the last playoff before expansion.
When Expo 86 opened in Vancouver Friday, one of the featured items at the Canada pavilion was the world's largest hockey stick. There is reason to question Canada's love for the sport, however.
The CTV network declined to cover Games 2, 3 and 4 of the current Calgary-St. Louis series. Instead, CTV chose to air the miniseries "North and South: Book II" about the U.S. Civil War.
According to Johnny Esaw, CTV vice president for sports, the reason was a simple one. The miniseries was expected to produce higher ratings.
CBC affiliates in Alberta and British Columbia picked up the games, but they cannot be seen in the rest of Canada. CBC is televising all of the Montreal-Rangers series.
Critics of Washington Coach Bryan Murray no doubt were intrigued by the decision of St. Louis Coach Jacques Demers to start goaltender Rick Wamsley in Calgary, after Greg Millen had carried the Blues past Minnesota and Toronto.
Murray stuck with Pete Peeters throughout the six-game loss to the Rangers, although Al Jensen had been highly successful against the Rangers in the regular season. It was a controversial decision New York players were still discussing last week in Montreal, since they claimed to be confident they could beat Peeters and expressed doubt about their chances against Jensen.
Demers went with Wamsley because he had a 10-2 career record against Calgary. After Game 1, Demers looked good, because Wamsley was outstanding in the Blues' 3-2 victory. However, Demers yanked Wamsley from Game 2 with St. Louis trailing by 4-0 in a game it lost, 8-2.
The Edmonton media, which in past years has featured "We Won" headlines and Bill Smith's head on a bull's-eye, turned on its beloved Oilers following the seven-game loss to Calgary.
"The Oilers showed several flaws, from top to bottom," wrote John Short in the Edmonton Journal. "Leadership, attitude, preparation and depth . . . It all adds up to arrogance."
Marc Horton of the Journal advocated the disposal of Dave Semenko, Dave Hunter, Don Jackson, Dave Lumley and Lee Fogolin, all of whom he ridiculed in terms ranging from "has-been" to "dumb-dumb."
Wayne Gretzky, the subject of many barbs in Calgary but none on home turf, will be in Portland, Ore., for the Memorial Cup, which begins on Saturday. Gretzky owns the Hull Olympiques of the Quebec Hockey League, one of the four challengers for Canada's junior championship. Although the Quebec League opted for a best-of-nine series this season, Hull experienced no trouble taking the title, as it won all 15 of its playoff games.
Trudy Banwell of Windsor, Ontario, has been banned from hockey for life. After being penalized for high sticking, Banwell punched the referee in the face and knocked down a linesman.
Yes, Banwell is a woman, a former participant in the Senior D body-checking division of the Ontario Women's Hockey Association. A nurse off the ice, she presumably has more patience with her patients.