The 2002-03 NHL season was the 86th regular season of the National Hockey League (NHL). Thirty teams each played 82 games. The season lasted from October 9, 2002 to June 9, 2003.
This was the last season that teams would wear their white uniform at home.
See also: 2003 Stanley Cup Playoffs
As always the regular season saw several surprises.
The San Jose Sharks, who many felt would be one of the elite teams in the West, stumbled early and badly and disassembled much of the team.
The elite teams of previous years such as the Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche and New Jersey Devils were joined by two younger Canadian teams, the Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks.
The most surprising team was perhaps the Tampa Bay Lightning, which many had predicted to finish last, contesting for the Southeast Division title and making the playoffs for the first time in seven years.
The most disappointing teams, other than the Sharks, were the New York Rangers, who finished out of the playoffs again despite bearing the league's leading payroll, and the Carolina Hurricanes, who finished last overall after a surprise run to the Stanley Cup Finals the year before.
At the midpoint of the season the Canucks lead the Western Conference and Ottawa lead the East.
Vancouver stumbled somewhat over the stretch and lost the Northwest Division title to Colorado and the Western Conference one to Dallas.
Ottawa continued to dominate, having the best season in franchise history and winning both the Eastern Conference and the Presidents' Trophy.
The season was also marred by financial difficulties.
Despite their success the Ottawa Senators were in bankruptcy protection for almost all of 2003 and at one point could not pay the players. Owner Rod Bryden tried a variety of innovative financing strategies, but these all failed and the team was purchased by billionaire Eugene Melnyk.
The Buffalo Sabres also entered bankruptcy protection before being saved by New York businessman Tom Golisano. The financial struggles of the Pittsburgh Penguins continued as the team continued to unload its most expensive players.
Worries over the decline in scoring and the neutral zone trap continued. The season began with an attempted crack down on obstruction and interference, but by the midpoint of the season this effort had petered out.
The expansion teams in the southern United States began to suffer financially, with many empty seats to be found in each arena.
Most teams lost money on the season. The one bright spot was the increasing value of the Canadian dollar, which made the six Canadian teams more competitive than they had been in years.
Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime Losses, GF = Goals For, GA = Goals Against, Pts = Points
|New Jersey Devils||46||20||10||6||216||166||108|
|New York Islanders||35||34||11||2||224||231||83|
|New York Rangers||32||36||10||4||210||231||78|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||44||28||7||3||236||208||98|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||36||25||16||5||219||210||93|
|Detroit Red Wings||48||20||10||4||269||203||110|
|St. Louis Blues||41||24||11||6||253||222||99|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||29||42||8||3||213||263||69|
|Mighty Ducks of Anaheim||40||27||9||6||203||193||95|
|Los Angeles Kings||33||37||6||6||203||221||78|
|San Jose Sharks||28||37||9||8||214||239||73|
Note: GP = Games Played, G = Goals, A = Assists, Pts = Points
|Pavol Demitra||St. Louis||78||36||57||93|
|Zigmund Palffy||Los Angeles||76||37||48||85|
Stanley Cup PlayoffsEdit
The Stanley Cup playoffs was one of shocking upsets in the Western Conference and hard fought battles in the Eastern Conference.
The most closely watched series in the first round was that between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Philadelphia Flyers. Two teams built around physical play with high salary and front-page trade deadline acquisitions.
The series did not disappoint and the Flyers ousted the Leafs in seven games. The Senators easily dispatched the New York Islanders, who had traded away their starting goaltender (Chris Osgood) before the playoffs.
In the west, the first round was one of unmitigated shock to all hockey watchers. The defending champions and perennial cup favourite Detroit Red Wings were swept by the underdog Mighty Ducks of Anaheim behind the goaltending of Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
The second round in the west brought more upsets.
The Minnesota Wild again fell 3 and 1 behind while playing Vancouver, but rallied and defeated them in seven games. Giguere's stellar goaltending continued to triumph as the Ducks ousted the Stars in six games.
The Western Conference final was a meeting of two dark horse teams, but the superb goaltending of Giguere and the Ducks triumphed over the tight checking of the Minnesota Wild.
The east was far more predictable as Tampa Bay's youth showed when playing the grizzled veterans of the New Jersey Devils and the Ottawa Senators dispatched a tired Flyers team for the second year in a row. The Eastern Conference finals were a contrast of styles between the offensively explosive Senators and the defense minded Devils.
The Devils came out to an early lead in the series, Ottawa rallied, winning games five and six on the energizing play of rookie Jason Spezza, but then the Devils regained their form as goaltender Martin Brodeur helped them win game seven and advance to the Stanley Cup finals for the third time in four years.
The Stanley Cup finals were a duel between two elite goaltenders, but after seven games the Devils triumphed to win their third Cup in seven years.
The series also saw Scott Stevens land one of his prototypical crushing hits on Anaheim captain Paul Kariya, similar to the one that had knocked out Eric Lindros, then of the Flyers in the 2000. Unlike Lindros, Kariya returned to the game only ten minutes later and scored.
Eastern Conference QuarterfinalsEdit
Western Conference QuarterfinalsEdit
Eastern Conference SemifinalsEdit
Western Conference SemifinalsEdit
- Main article: 2003 Stanley Cup Finals
|Anaheim vs. New Jersey|
|May 27||Anaheim 0||3 New Jersey|
|May 29||Anaheim 0||3 New Jersey|
|May 31||New Jersey 2||3 Anaheim||OT|
|June 2||New Jersey 0||1 Anaheim||OT|
|June 5||Anaheim 3||6 New Jersey|
|June 7||New Jersey 2||5 Anaheim|
|June 9||Anaheim 0||3 New Jersey|
| New Jersey wins series|
4–3 and Stanley Cup
| J.S. Giguere (Anaheim)|
wins Conn Smythe Trophy
Note: GP = Games Played, G = Goals, A = Assists, Pts = Points
|Jamie Langenbrunner||New Jersey Devils||24||11||7||18|
|Scott Niedermayer||New Jersey Devils||24||2||16||18|
|Marian Gaborik||Minnesota Wild||18||9||8||17|
|John Madden||New Jersey Devils||24||6||10||16|
|Marian Hossa||Ottawa Senators||18||5||11||16|
|Mike Modano||Dallas Stars||12||5||10||15|
|Jeff Friesen||New Jersey Devils||24||10||4||14|
|Markus Naslund||Vancouver Canucks||14||5||9||14|
|Sergei Zubov||Dallas Stars||12||4||10||14|
|Andrew Brunette||Minnesota Wild||18||7||6||13|
|Wes Walz||Minnesota Wild||18||7||6||13|
The NHL Awards presentation took place in Toronto.
The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 2002-03 (listed with their first team):
- Martin Gerber, Anaheim Mighty Ducks
- Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins
- Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres
- Jordan Leopold, Calgary Flames
- Rick Nash, Columbus Blue Jackets
- Steve Ott, Dallas Stars
- Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings
- Ales Hemsky, Edmonton Oilers
- Fernando Pisani, Edmonton Oilers
- Jarret Stoll, Edmonton Oilers
- Marc-Andre Bergeron, Edmonton Oilers
- Jay Bouwmeester, Florida Panthers
- Alexander Frolov, Los Angeles Kings
- Cristobal Huet, Los Angeles Kings
- Joe Corvo, Los Angeles Kings
- Mike Cammalleri, Los Angeles Kings
- Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Minnesota Wild
- Francois Beauchemin, Montreal Canadiens
- Vernon Fiddler, Nashville Predators
- Anton Volchenkov, Ottawa Senators
- Jason Spezza, Ottawa Senators
- Ray Emery, Ottawa Senators
- Jonathan Cheechoo, San Jose Sharks
- Christian Backman, St. Louis Blues
- Petr Cajanek, St. Louis Blues
The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 2002-03 (listed with their last team):
- Uwe Krupp, Atlanta Thrashers
- Craig Berube, Calgary Flames
- Theoren Fleury, Chicago Blackhawks
- Todd Gill, Chicago Blackhawks
- Patrick Roy, Colorado Avalanche
- Kevin Dineen, Columbus Blue Jackets
- Kirk Muller, Dallas Stars
- Ulf Dahlen, Dallas Stars
- Claude Lemieux, Dallas Stars
- Fredrik Olausson, Detroit Red Wings
- Adam Deadmarsh, Los Angeles Kings
- Randy McKay, Montreal Canadiens
- Ken Daneyko, New Jersey Devils
- Mike Richter, New York Rangers
- Pavel Bure, New York Rangers
- Paul Ranheim, Phoenix Coyotes
- Adam Graves, San Jose Sharks
- Tom Barrasso, St. Louis Blues
- Jyrki Lumme, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Robert Svehla, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Phil Housley, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Doug Gilmour, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Craig Billington, Washington Capitals
- Sylvain Cote, Washington Capitals
See also Edit
- List of Stanley Cup champions
- 2003 Stanley Cup Playoffs
- 2002 NHL Entry Draft
- 53rd National Hockey League All-Star Game
- NHL All-Star Game
- NHL All-Rookie Team